LeBron James and Anthony Davis are expected to play on Wednesday, league sources told ESPN. James missed a game for the first time all season Sunday with a thoracic muscle strain and discomfort in his groin; Davis tweaked his right knee during that game, a loss to Denver.
James and Davis encouraged an impromptu early-morning practice on Christmas Eve, sources told ESPN, in preparation for the Lakers’ first game against the fully formed Clippers with both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George available to play.
The Lakers, who recently completed a stint of 12 out of 15 games on the road, also practiced Monday, but both James and Davis were held out of on-court participation.
With an early 5 p.m. PT tip on Christmas making it too much of a time crunch to hold a morning shootaround on game day, the two Lakers leaders brought the group in on Tuesday so they could join their teammates in the walk-through to prepare for the Clippers.
Lakers coach Frank Vogel lamented his team’s overall lack of practice time and conceded that it could be a contributor to the three-game losing streak L.A. is mired in.
“We went a 10-day trip without a single practice, really,” Vogel said Monday. “One shootaround, I think. Sometimes that benefits your legs, but usually it leads to a little bit of slippage in your execution and togetherness, particularly on the defensive end.”
The Clippers beat the Lakers 112-102 on opening night in a game that the Lakers admit did not feature their best execution. “I think we were super emotional in the first game, and it showed,” Dwight Howard said this week, looking back at the loss.
James and Davis’ extra practice time would seem to be a step toward drilling down the game plan to have that knowledge to fall back on when the atmosphere gets charged at Staples Center for Lakers-Clippers, Part 2.
“It’s a little bit like the playoffs,” Vogel said. “You want to be jacked up. But sometimes the best mental approach to the playoffs is managing your adrenaline and managing the edge. But let’s start with the edge first. Bring the juice first. If we’re overboard with it, we can always pull back. But you don’t want to be it the other way around. And it won’t be.”