Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony

Three Things to Know: Lakers at Celtics - 11/19/21

by Matthew Barrero

The Lakers (8-8) started their five-game road trip on the wrong foot, in a 109-102 loss to the defending champion, Milwaukee Bucks, Wednesday night. Los Angeles will turn the page and face their biggest rival in the form of the Boston Celtics (7-8). Tipoff is set for 4:30 p.m. PT on Spectrum SportsNet and ESPN.

Here are three things to know heading into tonight’s contest:

BACK LIKE HE NEVER LEFT
Three games back and Talen Horton-Tucker has found his stride without any delays. He has started in every contest and is averaging about 24 points and eight rebounds in roughly 35 minutes.

The soon-to-be 21-year-old returned from thumb surgery Sunday afternoon and since his return has shown his ability to make the flashy plays on offense while limiting his opponent’s damage, defensively.

Frank Vogel has been impressed by THT’s ability to return without missing a beat and knows what kind of factor he can play in any role.

“I haven’t made any decisions yet,” Vogel said. “Sometimes scoring off the bench is what you need. He’s playing as good as anybody from the standpoint of both sides of the ball and what he’s giving to us on defense and what he’s giving to us on offense. He’s been terrific in his first few games back and he’ll have a big role and has definitely made his case.”

He has led the Lakers in points and rebounds the last two games with no signs of slowing down and with a tired group and a shortened bench, THT looks to be the much-needed spark to this Lakers squad.

LBJ ON HIS WAY?
Speaking of a spark…LeBron James (rectus abdominis strain) is listed as questionable entering tonight’s game. Over the past week, James has been seen on the court well before tipoff getting reps and working on individual basketball drills prepping for a comeback.

L.A. has gone 3-5 in his absence and have had some uncharacteristic outings without their leader. Anthony Davis has picked up the slack, averaging 23 points and 11 rebounds in 34 minutes/game and has recorded four double-doubles.

Russell Westbrook has also contributed with the lack of James, averaging 18 points, eight rebounds and nine assists in 35 minutes/game and recorded back-to-back triple-doubles against Charlotte and Miami and two double-double with the most recent occurring in Wednesday’s game at Milwaukee.

“I always hope he’s going to play,” Vogel said. “I’m always optimistic. He’s still day-to-day and no decision has been made. I know he did some work [on Wednesday]. I have not gotten the report on how it went but I’ll leave that between [LeBron] and the medical team to make those decisions as to when he is ready to go.”

If he’s a-go, LeBron will play in his 55th game against the Celtics where he is averaging almost 29 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Specifically at TD Garden, he holds a record of 11-13, averaging 27.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists and is shooting almost 50 percent from the field.

NO MORE THAN TWO
The Lakers sit at .500 and have lost two-straight games to Milwaukee and Chicago. L.A.’s streakiness has been evident all season, losing the first two games of the new year followed by two wins over Memphis and San Antonio.

The longest win-streak they’ve had so far is three (defeating Cleveland and Houston twice) but the more interesting stat line is their longest losing streak. Los Angeles has lost no more than two games in a row, thus far. Additionally, when the Lakers have lost two games consecutively, they have won two games on both occurrences.

The Lakers/Celtics rivalry doesn’t need much to become an attention-grabber. When these two meet, you’re in for a show. Both have won 17 NBA championships. Both sit middle of the pack of their respective conferences. Both are itching for a large win to turn a new leaf.

East vs West.
Lakers vs Celtics.
The Greatest Rivalry in Sports.

Enjoy.

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