Kyle Kuzma drives against Kawai Leonard

Lakers vs. Clippers, Three Things to Know: April 4, 2021

by Mike Trudell
Lakers Reporter

The Lakers (31-17) will face the Clippers (32-18) on Sunday afternoon for a rare 12:30 p.m. tipoff on Spectrum SportsNet.

Below are three things to know in advance of the matchup:

KUZMA SHINES IN SAC
Several Lakers had terrific games that helped towards a 115-94 victory at Sacramento, but nobody was better than Kyle Kuzma, who used only 18 FGA’s to reach a season-high 30 points. Kuz added five boards and three assists in 36 minutes for a +29, and made sure Buddy Hield got very few good looks at the hoop, en route to a 3 for 11 shooting night (1 for 9 from 3). With LeBron and AD out against the Clippers, the Lakers will likely need a similarly effective day from Kuzma against Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

GASOL’S IMPORTANCE
Marc Gasol is more impactful than many think … but Frank Vogel is well aware of his value.

There was some attention on Gasol’s postgame comments, in which he was honest about his being replaced in the starting lineup a “Hard pill to swallow,” but he also played really good basketball in Andre Drummond’s debut (in the fourth quarter), and in Sacramento, when he had nine boards, six assists, five points and a series of excellent plays on defense, as he held down L.A.’s paint and also stepped up to help on the Kings guards. There are certain matchups in which L.A. will definitely need Gasol, even with the presence of Drummond, Montrezl Harrell and the minutes Anthony Davis will play at center. The Spaniard can still make a big impact, and he’ll need to against former Laker Ivica Zubac on Sunday.

WITHHOLD YOUR CONCLUSIONS
The Clippers have been pretty healthy of late, aside from Patrick Beverley and Serge Ibaka. New addition and 2019-20 title winner with the Lakers, Rajon Rondo, acquired in a trade for Lou Williams, is expected to make his Clippers debut on Sunday, after being out since March 22 due to a right adductor issue.

The Lakers, of course, are very far from healthy, with their two All-NBA First Team stars out, and Andre Drummond (right big toe contusion) and Wesley Matthews (neck contusion) listed as questionable. It’s always appealing to draw major conclusions with a marquee matchup like this, but the Lakers can’t be thinking too much about the standings (they trail LAC by 0.5 games) or implications for a potential matchup down the road. Unless, of course, they’re able to rally around the flag and find a way to win against a Clippers team coming off a pair of home losses to Orlando and Denver.

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