The 2017-18 season hasn’t been particularly kind to the two teams that call Los Angeles home. The Clippers, who have been absolutely ravaged by injuries, are just 14-19 and currently on the outside looking in on the Western Conference playoff picture. The Lakers, meanwhile, own the worst record in the Pacific Division (11-22) and are facing some injury concerns of their own.
While the Clips are facing the possibility of getting Blake Griffin back for Friday night’s LAC-LAL tilt, the Lakers may be without two of their promising rookies. Lonzo Ball is already slated to miss the game with a shoulder injury, and Kyle Kuzma is officially listed as questionable after suffering a quad injury in Wednesday night’s loss to the Grizzlies.
Kuzma left the game after taking a knee to his quad during the fourth quarter. He put a wrap on his injured leg on the bench and ultimately returned to the game, but he pretty clearly didn’t have his usual mobility. Even before getting hurt, Kuzma was in the midst of a miserable evening. He finished with just nine points and eight rebounds on atrocious 4-24 shooting from the field, including 1-11 from three-point range.
You obviously never want to see injuries, but Kuzma’s potential absence would certainly be an additional boost for the Clippers in this one. The Utah product has arguably been the league’s most pleasant surprise this season. The 27th overall pick in last June’s draft is averaging 17.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while shooting better than 39 percent from three-point range.
The Laker frontcourt is already without Brook Lopez, who went down earlier this month with an ankle sprain. Kuzma’s absence would presumably mean additional minutes for the likes of Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr. Andrew Bogut has been serving as the nominal starting center in Lopez’s place, but the big Aussie rarely sees more than 15 minutes a night. The Lakers will occasionally go super small with lineups featuring Brandon Ingram at the 4, though that may prove difficult if the Clippers are able to put Griffin and DeAndre Jordan out there together.
The shorthanded Clippers will “visit” the shorthanded Lakers at Staples Center on Friday night at 7:30 Pacific.