With their season on hold, the Los Angeles Lakers are hoping to welcome back a pair of superstars on Friday for a must-see home game against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Anthony Davis and LeBron James are expected to be game-time decisions for Lakers coach Frank Vogel. Davis has missed the last 18 with a midfoot sprain, while James exited the just-concluded road trip with a sprained ankle.
Asked about the status of his superstars on Thursday, Vogel said: “We can’t answer that question until (Friday).”
The shorthanded Lakers (31-45) lost a 122-109 decision to the Utah Jazz on Thursday in Salt Lake City and fell to 11th place in the Western Conference with their fourth straight loss. Los Angeles has the same record as San Antonio but trails Spurs on a tiebreaker basis.
The Lakers are away and watching the play-in tournament with six games to go.
Russell Westbrook had 24 points and seven assists for the Lakers at Utah. Dwight Howard added 21 points and 12 rebounds from center. Los Angeles allowed the Jazz to shoot 51.1 percent from the floor.
The Lakers are 4-14 without Davis since mid-February. He averaged 23.1 points and 9.7 rebounds in 37 games this season.
Davis also missed 21 other games, most of it with a knee injury.
James – who is averaging 30.1 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.3 assists – has been out for three of the past four games. He missed 21 games for various reasons, including a one-game suspension.
“I’m a coach who honestly prides himself on a boring rotation and is too wrong, too wrong on the stability side,” Vogel said of seeing his stars miss so much time. “I haven’t been able to do that this year, and it’s been very difficult for me as a head coach.
“But you have to make tough decisions and try to find something that will do the job. It’s definitely not how I imagined it, but you have to adapt on the fly in this league.
The Pelicans beat host Portland Trail Blazers 117-107 on Wednesday and have won five of their last seven games. In New Orleans’ 116-108 home win over the Lakers on Sunday, Brandon Ingram scored 26 points in his return from a 10-game absence with a hamstring injury.
The Pelicans (33-43) won that one despite James scoring 39 points and making seven 3-pointers, most of which came after spraining his left ankle in the second quarter.
The Pelicans are ninth in the Western Conference, two games ahead of the Spurs and Lakers.
In New Orleans’ win on Wednesday, CJ McCollum scored a team-high 25 points. He was playing his first game in Portland, which he called home for 8½ seasons, since a trade in February.
” It was hard. I got off to a good start, but I was (emotionally) tired,” McCollum said. “I almost airballed a free throw. I was physically drained, mentally drained. It was a lot to go through.
“I’m glad I got to go through this, play and help my team win, and I can’t wait to move on.”
–Field level media
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