The Los Angeles Lakers will try to end a season-high four-game losing streak and return to the .500 mark for the ninth time this season when they play host to the Brooklyn Nets Saturday in the first event at the renamed Crypto.com Arena.
Five Lakers and seven Nets will miss the game because of the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Lakers sidelined by the protocols include guard Avery Bradley, who started 21 of 29 games before entering the protocols Dec. 16.
Lakers coach Frank Vogel will miss his fourth consecutive game because of the health and safety protocols with assistant coach David Fizdale seeking his first victory as acting coach.
Nets sidelined by the protocols include Kevin Durant, the NBA’s leading scorer, seven-time all-star guard Kyrie Irving, and two rookies who made their first starts in Brooklyn’s most recent game, forward Kessler Edwards — an alumnus of Etiwanda High in Rancho Cucamonga and Pepperdine — and guard Cam Thomas.
Irving, who has not been vaccinated for the coronavirus, was ineligible to play or practice with the team at the start of the season because of New York City’s vaccine mandate.
The Nets announced on Dec. 17 that Irving would return to the team as a part-time player for games outside of New York City and Toronto, following a large number players lost to injuries and health and safety protocols and the high number of minutes that fellow perennial all-star James Harden has been playing.
Irving has not played this season.
Durant also has what the team describes as right ankle soreness. The 6-foot-10-inch forward missed last Saturday’s game, a 100-93 loss to the Orlando Magic, because of the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Durant is averaging a league-high 29.7 points per game.
Both teams have signed four players to 10-day contracts pursuant to the NBA Hardship Exception provisions. NBA rosters are limited to 15 players, but under an agreement reached Sunday between the league and its players’ union, a team is allowed to sign a replacement player for each positive COVID-19 case that crops up across its roster.
The Lakers signed 34-year-old former Etiwanda High and UCLA standout Darren Collison to a 10-day contract Friday.
Collison announced his retirement from the NBA on June 28, 2019 after 10 seasons in the league.
“Basketball has been my life since I was a child. I could never imagine finding anything that brings me more joy than I get from playing the game,” he wrote in an article published on June 28, 2019 on The Undefeated, the ESPN-owned website focusing on issues of race in sports.
“While I still love basketball, I know there is something more important, which is my family and my faith. I am one of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and my faith means everything to me. I receive so much joy from volunteering to help others and participate in a worldwide ministry. The joy I feel is unmatched. With that being said, I have decided to retire from the NBA.”
This will be the fourth game that Lakers forward-center Anthony Davis has missed since spraining the MCL in his left knee Dec. 17 in a 110-92 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Lakers lost the previous three games, dropping to 16-17.
Brooklyn’s last three games were postponed because of the number of players in the health and safety protocols. The Nets’ 21-9 record is the best in the Eastern Conference and fourth-best in the league. A victory would give them a league-best 12-3 road record. Brooklyn is tied with Phoenix for the league’s best road record.
Lakers are scheduled to play on Christmas Day for the 23rd consecutive year, with LeBron James needing 13 points to pass Kobe Bryant and become the leading scorer in Christmas Day games. The late Lakers star scored 395 points in 16 Christmas Day games. James will be playing in his 16th Christmas Day game Saturday.
James’ 10 victories on Christmas Day shares the record with his retired former Miami Heat teammate Dwyane Wade.
The Lakers have won a record 24 Christmas Day games, two more than the New York Knicks.
The Lakers are 24-23 on Christmas Day, including a 4-7 record in their last 11 Christmas Day games. They were 138-115 winners over the Dallas Mavericks last Christmas.
The Lakers have played on Christmas Day 47 times, second-most in NBA history behind the Knicks, who have played on Christmas Day 53 times.
The last time the Lakers didn’t play on Christmas Day was in 1998, when the owners’ lockout of the players delayed the start of the season until February.
The Nets will be playing on Christmas Day for the second consecutive year after not playing on Christmas Day since 2013. They are 5-5 on Christmas Day since entering the league in 1976, including a 123-95 victory over the Boston Celtics last Christmas.
A new logo and other branding assets, including internal arena signage, will be introduced Saturday as part of Crypto.com’s 20-year naming rights agreement with AEG, the arena’s owner, announced Nov. 17.
Terms of the agreement were not announced, though the Los Angeles Times reported the cryptocurrency platform paid more than $700 million to replace the office supply chain Staples for the naming rights, according to sources familiar with the terms, making it one of the biggest naming deals in sports history.