Boston Celtics at L.A. Lakers
When: 8:30 PM ET, Saturday, March 9, 2019
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
Preview for Digital Sports Desk by Gracenote
LOS ANGELES – The high the Los Angeles Lakers experienced after earning a 129-128 victory over the Boston Celtics on Feb. 7 dissipated quickly with losses in eight of the next 10 games, knocking the team to the fringes of playoff contention. The Lakers will reportedly start limiting superstar LeBron James’ minutes when they host the Celtics on Saturday.
The push that Los Angeles expected to make after James returned from a groin injury never happened, and a four-game losing streak that culminated with a 115-99 home loss to Denver on Wednesday apparently convinced the team to start backing off the workload of its 34-year-old cornerstone. “I will be monitoring his workload from here on out,” Lakers coach Luke Walton told ESPN on Thursday of James, who is averaging 27.1 points in 35.6 minutes in his first season in Los Angeles, including an average of 37.1 minutes in 14 games since returning from the injury. The Celtics are in the process of pulling out of a funk and took the first two stops of a four-game road trip. “Trying to build something, man, trying to build some consistency going into the playoffs, as I said a few weeks ago, and we’re starting off well,” forward Marcus Morris told the Boston Herald. “Starting to come together, and it’s fun. Guys are enjoying each other, and we’re trying to rack up as many (wins) as possible.”
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, ABC
ABOUT THE CELTICS (40-26): Boston blew out the defending champion Golden State Warriors 128-95 on Tuesday behind 30 points from small forward Gordon Hayward and got 12 points, including the game-winning shot, from Hayward in Wednesday’s 111-109 triumph over Sacramento. “I think it builds a little bit of confidence, try to keep the good games going, be more consistent,” Hayward told reporters after beating the Kings. “I felt like tonight wasn’t my best night shooting-wise, but I try to do some other things. They were a tough team, and I think the fact that they push the ball so fast up the court was even harder on us coming from a back-to-back, so I’m proud of us that we gutted it out.” The Celtics enter play on Friday in fifth place in the East, 1 1/2 games behind fourth-place Philadelphia.
ABOUT THE LAKERS (30-35): Los Angeles entered play on Friday 6 1/2 games behind the eighth-place Clippers in the race for the No. 8 spot in the West and seems to be turning its focus to the future due to the lackluster play of late. James (32,311) scored 31 points in 31 minutes on Wednesday to pass Michael Jordan for fourth place on the all-time scoring list but admitted that the loss took some of the fun out of the accomplishment. “Absolutely,” James told reporters. “At the end of the day, we’re still struggling, and I hate that for our franchise, I hate that for our fans, I hate that for myself.”
1. Lakers SF Brandon Ingram (shoulder) and PF Kyle Kuzma (ankle) both sat out Wednesday and are day-to-day.
2. Boston PG Kyrie Irving (thigh) sat out Wednesday but is expected to return Saturday.
3. Los Angeles took the last two in the series after dropping the previous four.