The Los Angeles Lakers (34-46) lost their last home game of the season as they fell to the Houston Rockets, 105-99. Once again without the likes of Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma, fellow rookie Josh Hart starred as he dropped his third-straight 20-point game and also added seven rebounds with two steals. Julius Randle added 17 points and eight rebounds in just 18 minutes of play. Meanwhile, Andre Ingram stole the show as he made his NBA debut after working for ten long years in the G League. Ingram had a debut to remember as he dropped 19 points (6-8 FG, 4-5 3-PT FG) off the bench.
The Lakers will now end their season the way they started it – facing their city rivals, the Clippers (42-39). The Clips continued their disappointing end to an otherwise strong season as they fell to the New Orleans Pelicans, 113-100. It was their third-straight defeat and their fifth in the last six games. With both Austin Rivers and Lou Williams sidelined, rookie Sindarius Thornwell starred with 20 points off the bench. Meanwhile, fellow reserve Montrezl Harrell added 15 points, eight rebounds, and six assists.
Three keys to the game
Clippers backcourt – After missing out against the Pelicans, both Rivers and Williams remain questionable for the season finale against the Lakers. Given that it’s a meaningless contest, don’t be surprised if Doc Rivers keeps both out again. But with two of their top scorers and shot creators out, the Clippers could struggle to create consistent offense.
Motivation – Both teams no longer have anything to play for and it’ll be an opportunity for both teams’ youngsters to see more playing time. But the young Lakers appeared to still be trying against the Rockets and could be the team with more motivation to end the season on a high.
Josh Hart – With so many star players either out or not playing heavy minutes, this game could come down to which team has the best player playing the most minutes. Hart could well be that player. The Lakers rookie has taken advantage of his opportunities to play and has shown off his offensive game recently with his recent string of 20-point performances. The Clippers don’t appear to have anyone who can match his offensive consistency, so if he can deliver another big game, the Lakers should be in good shape.
Matchup to watch
Josh Hart vs Tyrone Wallace – Hart has been going off for big games lately, but Wallace has also shown that he’s capable of putting together some impressive offensive performances. The Clippers rookie led the team in both minutes and shot attempts against the Pelicans and should continue to get his chances against the Lakers.
Lakers projected starting lineup
PG – Alex Caruso | SG – Josh Hart | SF – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope | PF – Julius Randle | C – Brook Lopez
Clippers projected starting lineup
PG – CJ Williams| SG – Tyrone Wallace | SF – Wes Johnson | PF – Tobias Harris | C – DeAndre Jordan
Hart is getting all the playing time he needs to shine, which is why he’s a big fantasy target. Tyler Ennis has also come up with some promising games of late, particularly his 22-point, three-steal effort against the Jazz. Also, don’t discount Ingram, who might just be the most motivated player on either team and will be eager to build off his 19-point night against the Rockets.
As for the Clippers, Wallace will continue to get his shots if Rivers and Williams miss out. But Harrell might just be this team’s top fantasy option for this game. He’s played impressively this April, putting up 16.2 points and 5.0 rebounds. If he gets over 30 minutes like he did against New Orleans, he could be up for another big night.
It’s hard to see the Clippers being able to get up for this game after seeing their season go down in flames. The Lakers seem like the team that will most likely have more interest in winning and ending their season on a positive note.
The Lakers conclude their regular season with a 110-102 “road” win against the Clippers.
This game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Prime Ticket and Spectrum Sports Net. Tip-off is at 10:30 pm Eastern.
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