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Lakers

Lakers-Clippers makeup game: It’s complicated, so no date yet

Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard and Lakers forward LeBron James battle for a loose ball during a game Dec. 25, 2019.
Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard and Lakers forward LeBron James battlie for a loose ball during a game Dec. 25. They don’t know yet when, or if, their postponed game will be rescheduled.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

It made perfect sense when, just days after Kobe Bryant’s death, the NBA decided to postpone a game on Jan. 28 between the Lakers and Clippers at Staples Center.

The teams — and the city — were still grieving.

“This is a very difficult time for all of us,” the Lakers said in a statement.

More than three weeks have passed with no announcement of a makeup date as the league deals with an uncooperative calendar.

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Neither the Lakers nor the Clippers have an obvious, mutual opening over the remaining regular season. To make matters worse, they must share Staples Center with the Kings and frequent special events such as concerts.

A league spokesman said Thursday that no date has been finalized. Neither team would comment.

Much of the complexity stems from NBA precedent. Teams used to play three nights in a row on occasion, but the late David Stern discouraged that practice when he took over as commissioner in 1984.

There have been exceptions in recent seasons, with both the Indiana Pacers and Washington Wizards playing back-to-back-to-back games after weather postponements.

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Some openings on the Lakers’ and Clippers’ schedules would inflict a three-game stretch on one or both teams. Others would require a daytime tipoff on a weekday to allow the Kings play that night.

Oddsmakers are giving Milwaukee the best chance to win the NBA championship, but that will change when the West winner is known.

The teams could meet on April 10, shortly before the end of the regular season, but Staples Center also has a concert booked that night.

The arena has managed this sort of transition before, with the Kings playing in the afternoon before an evening show. Much of the rigging for the musical performance is done the day before.

The arena will pull just such a quick switch on Monday, reconfiguring from a memorial for Bryant in the morning to a Clippers game at 7:30 p.m.

“It’s what we do,” spokesman Michael Roth said, “converting the building from one event to another.”

The April 10 date, though, would leave the Lakers with a short turnaround after playing Golden State the previous night because it would require a Friday afternoon tipoff for a matchup that was supposed to be on national television.

Giannis Antetokounmpo’s outstanding skills are one reason why the Milwaukee Bucks are fully capable of beating the Lakers or Clippers for the NBA title.
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League executives could schedule the game for the day after the regular season ends, but that also poses a problem.

By that time, the result could be meaningless in terms of playoff seedings for one or both teams, a situation that could lead to most if not all the starters resting on the bench. But the outcome could also affect the seeding of another Western Conference team, with its postseason fate decided by a contest played between substitutes.


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