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Lakers resting stars, Westbrook against Warriors tonight

Three of the NBA’s 75 greatest players won’t be suiting up when the Lakers face the Warriors tonight. They’re really going to miss Anthony Davis and LeBron!

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers’ Big Three will be sitting out for the nationally-televised matchup with the Warriors tonight.
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Two days after they were eliminated from playoff contention, the Los Angeles Lakers decided to focus on what they’ve been best at in the 2021-22 season: Sitting out games. The team announced that LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook would all be resting for tonight’s game against the Golden State Warriors, denying LeBron a chance to share the court with his favorite player, Steph Curry.

LeBron needed to play two more game in order to qualify for the scoring title, which had seemed to be his primary focus as the season slipped away from the Lake Show. His defensive effort certainly seemed to imply that.

But the prevailing sentiment now seems to be that LeBron wouldn’t play once the Lakers were out the playoffs, no matter how close he was to an unprecedented scoring title at 37 years of age. Probably because it would look pretty bad to play meaningless games against the Thunder and the Nuggets after missing the game against the Phoenix Suns that eliminated them from the post-season.

Davis will be shut down due to his injury, and likely wouldn’t have come back at all were the Lakers not in such desperate straits. He sprained his foot when he landed on Rudy Gobert, shutting down a season once again, and was noticeably favoring the sore foot when he returned. He’ll finish the season having missed half of the Lakers’ games, same as last year, with his other major injury coming when LeBron pushed a defender in to him, spraining his MCL.

The Brow has played 61% of the team’s regular season games since joining the team in 2019. Honestly, Gobert’s COVID-positive stunt in 2020 probably enabled Davis to play as many games as he did, due to the multi-month break and conclusion in the Orlando bubble.

While the Lakers will miss James and Davis, the team may have mixed feelings about Westbrook sitting out. Rightly or wrongly, he’s become the scapegoat for this disappointing Lakers season. When Magic Johnson is going on TV and complaining about trading for him, it’s clear that the organization has soured on him, and not just the Klutch Sports media. Combined, the trio averaged 72 points, 16.4 assists, and 25.5 rebounds per game this year. They also shot a combined 32% from three-point range.

Without the Big Three, the Warriors will be facing a lineup led by the resurgent Malik Monk, Alex Caruso’s replacement in hustle and translucence, Austin Reaves, plus Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony. They don’t have anything to play for, but neither did the Orlando Magic a few weeks ago, so the Warriors still need to take care of business in this game and protect their third-place spot in the West. That is, unless they’d rather drop to No. 4 and play Gobert and the Jazz, but there’s plenty of time to tank this weekend if that’s the case.