After eight days in Hawaii, the Lakers are back stateside and return to the floor against the Toronto Raptors. Canada’s team is in California for a preseason tour, opening their exhibition campaign against the Clippers and the defending champion Warriors.
If there’s one bit of news that matters heading into the contest it’s who will be available for the Lakers. As we noted in our recap from Tuesday’s game versus the Jazz, the Lakers are a bit banged up and that will affect lineups tonight:
Lakers list Brandon Bass as doubtful for tomorrow vs. Raptors (knee), Russell questionable (glute) and Huertas out (hamstring)
— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) October 8, 2015
If you recall, Bass took a weird (and hard) fall on Tuesday and was on the ground holding his knee in what looked to be serious pain. He did return the game and seemed fine, but was scheduled to undergo an evaluation today after X-rays were inconclusive. (UPDATE: Brandon Bass has been ruled out with patella contusion to the left knee he banged.)
As for Russell, he’s officially a game time decision. I have my doubts he plays, but you never know. But with Huertas already ruled out, and, even if Russell does play he’s likely to be limited on minutes, the Lakers are thin on point guards so you can get ready for more Lou Williams/Nick Young “my turn, your turn” lineups.
Beyond the lineup shifts due to health concerns, I’m most interested in seeing if the Lakers can build on Tuesday’s game. That contest saw Kobe, Randle, and Hibbert all play pretty well. With Clarkson likely playing more PG in this game, I’m also interested in seeing if he will bring the assertiveness and spark he showed to start the 2nd half (with Russell sitting) in Tuesday’s game. The Lakers are going to be relying heavily on their starters this year, so any rhythm that can be established with that group is a huge bonus and positive step heading into the season.
On the flip side of this, though, is whether we will see more of the end of the bench players tonight. In While Michael Frazier saw some good burn in the first couple of games, Larry Nance Jr. (injury) has only seen short minutes in game two, while Robert Upshaw and Jonathan Holmes have not seen any minutes at all. At some point it would be nice to see what these guys can do in game action against other teams. I’m not at practice and do not know what goes on behind the scenes, but Byron did comment that it’s nothing Upshaw is or isn’t doing that’s kept him out of games, but simply that the big man has to “wait his turn”. I’m not overly hopeful that he’s going to be a difference maker, but I do hope his turn comes soon just so we can get some idea of what he can do.