The Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics renew their storied rivalry on Friday night at Staples Center, and even in this down year, these teams find ways to compete. Both teams are struggling and sit closer to the bottom of the league than the top.
The Lakers and Celtics are level with 36 losses a piece this season. The Lakers, though, have one less win than Boston, so technically, the Lakers are one win ahead of the Celtics in the race for NBA’s draft lottery. Entering Friday’s game, the Lakers have the fifth worst record in the NBA, and the Celtics are on their heels at no. six from the bottom.
Earlier in the season, the Lakers traveled to Boston and won, snapping a six-game losing streak. On Friday, the Lakers welcome the Celtics after dropping eight straight at home. With the Celtics having won four of their last seven games, Friday night should be competitive even if the basketball does not look pretty for the majority of the 48 minutes.
For the Lakers, Pau Gasol returns to the starting lineup following seven games out with a groin injury. Also, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni confirmed that new additions Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks expect to play minutes on Friday despite not taking part in any practices.
At Friday’s shootaround, Bazemore revealed that he was in the gym at 8:30 am working with coaches to be ready.
“It’s going to be an adjustment, of course, but it’s basketball,” Bazemore said at Friday's morning shootaround. “It’s all universal.”
Brooks, who grew up a fan of the Lakers and Kobe Bryant, said he was “excited” when he heard about the trade.
“From my rookie year, I’m a totally different player. I got a lot better,” Brooks said. “I’ve worked on my body for two years. At this stage, I just need minutes to put it all together.”
In LA, the Lakers need healthy players to play minutes, so Brooks may have found the perfect fit, even if his time here only lasts 28 games. In his rookie season, Brooks averaged 12.6 points in 29.4 minutes per game. However, his sophomore season saw a sharp decline in minutes and production. After being traded to Boston and then to Golden State, Brooks has rarely found an opportunity to get onto the court. On Friday, Brooks sounded hungry for the opportunity to play, particularly against the Celtics.
Brooks said, “I never really got an opportunity to play (in Boston), so I would like to…show them what I got.”
The Lakers and Celtics tip-off at 7:30 pm PST.