NBA superstars have egos, and I promise you they are aware of certain statistical milestones. LeBron James and the Lakers "host" the Clippers in a Battle of Los Angeles tonight, and the Clippers are now the only team in the league that James has never scored 40 points against in a single game. That doesn't seem particularly likely to happen tonight as James is set at over/under 32.5 points at Caesars Sportsbook. The Lakers are +5.
There are 30 teams in the NBA, and James had hit the 40-point barrier against just 28 of them until scoring a season-high 48 against the Houston Rockets last Monday to reach 29. It's no surprise the two teams remaining were both in the Western Conference considering James spent the vast majority of his career in the East with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat, and East teams only play West teams twice per season in a regular 82-game schedule.
The Lakers lost two early-season games against the Clippers and James had 20 and 30 points in those outings. In 40 career appearances against the Clippers, he's averaging 24.1 points per game, tied for his fewest against any club along with the Detroit Pistons. On the season, James is at 29.8 PPG and is fresh off a 37-point effort, leading a shocking comeback win in Portland on Sunday in which Los Angeles trailed by 25 at the half and still won by nine.
That tied for the second-biggest halftime deficit the Lakers have erased for a win in franchise history. L.A. was outscored 45-13 in the second quarter and became the first team to win a game in which it lost a quarter by 30+ points since the Celtics did so on Oct. 20, 1972 against the Buffalo Braves.
The Lakers did make a trade Monday, acquiring forward Rui Hachimura from Washington for guard Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks. Hachimura, the ninth overall pick out of Gonzaga in the 2019 NBA draft, is averaging 13.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in 24.3 minutes per game this season and is a decent three-point shooter, which the Lakers badly need. Nunn wasn't playing much so it's a pretty cheap price, but the Wizards weren't planning to re-sign Hachimura as a restricted free agent this summer.
James had been the Lakers' only player capable of playing small forward taller than 6'6", and now the 6'8' Hachimura can do so. He will not debut tonight, but the SportsLine Projection Model (below) slightly upgraded the Lakers overall with his addition. No Lakers futures odds changed at Caesars.
- Picks: NFL | NBA | CFB | CBB
- DFS: Lineup Optimizer | Picks
- Early Edge: YouTube | Apple Podcasts
- Newsletters: SportsLine Daily | Fantasy
Qualifying SportsLine members receive a 30-day free trial of Paramount+ premium. Sync your account right here.
Share This Story