LeBron James is expected to miss his second straight game when the Lakers host the Clippers on Friday night at Staples Center. James sustained a groin injury late in a 127-101 victory against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night.
James, who signed with the Lakers in the offseason after four seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, played all 82 regular-season games and all 22 playoff games last season. He hasn't missed back-to-back games since the final two of the 2016-17 regular season.
Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball each surpassed his season scoring averages in the first game without James on Thursday night, but the Lakers (20-15) couldn't protect a 15-point, fourth-quarter lead and lost 117-116 to the host Sacramento Kings on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.
The Lakers are also expected to be without their other high-profile offseason acquisition, backup point guard Rajon Rondo, who injured his right ring finger in the win against Golden State. Rondo was in his third game back after missing the previous 17 with a fractured hand.
The Lakers have lost 21 of the past 24 games against the Clippers.
The Clippers (20-14) have scored at least 125 points in each of their past five games to move to No. 3 in the NBA in scoring at 115.9 points a game.
A key to their success has been the production from their bench. The Clippers lead the NBA in bench scoring at 51.8 points a game, and the reserves put up 57 in a 127-118 win against the visiting Kings on Wednesday.
Lou Williams is third on the team in scoring (17.6) and Montrezl Harrell is fourth (15.5), making the Clippers the only team with two players averaging at least 15 points off the bench this season.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers has been especially impressed by Harrell, an undersized power forward and a 2015 second-round pick of the Houston Rockets. He and Williams were among the players traded to the Clippers 18 months ago in exchange for Chris Paul.
Rivers called Harrell "relentless."
"His energy and his toughness, he knows his niche with each group," Rivers said. "When he plays with the second group, he knows exactly how to play with those guys. He has kind of figured it out; it is nice."
Patrick Beverley also came to the Clippers in the Paul trade, and he hounded Ball in his rookie debut last season. Ball was unable to finish the game in Sacramento on Thursday night because of leg cramps.
That could make Ball even more vulnerable against Beverley, who has been contributing much more than just getting in the head of the opposition this season, Rivers said.
"Beverley should get more credit. He has been doing a lot of little things," Rivers said. "When he goes on the floor there is a plus, with his defensive energy, and he is an instigator. He just does a lot of little winning things that are not on the stats sheet, but he is doing a lot for our team in helping us win games."