Dwight Howard fist pump

Three Things to Know: Lakers vs Clippers - 12/03/21

by Mike Trudell

The Lakers (12-11) are set to face the Clippers (11-11) at 7:00 p.m. for a Purple and Gold home game, with the pregame show starting at 6:00 p.m. Pacific on Spectrum SportsNet. LAL are coming off a blowout win on Tuesday at Sacramento; the Kings then beat the Clippers on Wednesday night, with the Lakers getting their first extra day of rest since Oct. 20-21st.

Below are three things to know about the matchup:

LEBRON CLEARED
On Thursday afternoon, the NBA released the following statement:

Following two negative PCR tests conducted more than 24 hours apart, Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James has cleared the NBA’s Health & Safety Protocols. James was originally placed in the Protocols on Tuesday, November 30 after a series of tests delivered conflicting results, including an initial positive test that was collected on November 29. Additional testing confirmed that he is not a positive case. In accordance with the Protocols, and the consistent testing practice that has been in place since the 2019-20 Season Restart in Orlando, the sample that produced the initial positive test was re-run twice and returned one negative and one positive result on two different PCR instruments. As a result, James underwent additional testing on November 30, with one test returning a negative result and a second test resulting in a clinically inconclusive result.

As such, the Lakers went from not expecting LeBron to play for a few games at a minimum, to eagerly welcoming him back for Friday evening’s contest.

OTHER INJURY UPDATES
After missing the Kings game with a sprained right thumb, Avery Bradley was upgraded to “probable” for the Clippers game.

“Avery got further evaluation, and he’s not going to need surgery,” said Frank Vogel. “That’s really positive news for us. He’s going to be available, but will play in a splint if we use him. I haven’t decided if I’m going to give him some further time to let him heal up some more. We’ll make that decision (on Friday).”

Meanwhile, on Monday afternoon, Trevor Ariza addressed reporters for the first time since he underwent an arthroscopic debridement procedure on his right ankle on Oct. 6. There remains no official timetable for his return to the court, though Ariza is nearing the eight-week mark upon which he’s expected to be re-evaluated by team doctors. In the meantime, he continues to focus on his rehabilitation.

“I’ve been just starting to run on my own,” he explained, after stating that he has indeed been feeling better. “On my own body weight. Been on the court shooting. Going through movements that I would probably have to get used to doing again. Conditioning. Sprinting. Lifting. Shooting. A whole lot of that.”

It’s been a process for the 6’8’’ wing, who did participate in the non-contact portion of practice on Thursday for the first time this season.

“I don’t have a definite date or anything like that,” he continued. “It’s all on when the doctors clear or the way my body feels and responds to more loading, more work. That’s kind of the gauge on when I’ll be able to be out there safely.”

DEFENSIVE LOCKDOWN AT SAC
After a poor first half at Sacramento in which the Lakers allowed 59 points on 25 of 45 field goals (55.6 percent), resulting in a 9-point deficit, Frank Vogel let the players have it in the locker room.

Apparently, it worked.

In the second half, Sacramento managed only 33 points, on 10 of 35 shooting, including 0 for 11 from 3-point range, plus nine turnovers. L.A.’s 26-point blowout victory was its largest of the season.

Among several players to step up on that end was Dwight Howard, who hadn’t planned on playing, but whom Frank Vogel called upon just three minutes into the game, replacing DeAndre Jordan.

Howard played a season-high 35 minutes, including almost the entire second half, and he finished the game +27.

“Trying to play both of those guys in really short minutes, is either one really able to get into a rhythm,” Vogel wondered. “We made a decision to only use one of them … it was DeAndre for a bit … (early) in the first quarter at Sacramento, I wanted to see what Dwight could do, and it was Dwight for the rest of that game. I do intend to start Dwight tomorrow against the Clippers, but it’ll be a situation we monitor on a game-to-game basis, but with the intention of giving those center minutes to one player, not two.”

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