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Lakers will open NBA restart against rival Clippers on July 30

Lakers' forward LeBron James.
LeBron James and the Lakers will open the NBA’s restart against the Clippers on July 30.
(Getty Images)

The Lakers’ first game in the NBA’s restart to its season will be against their rival and the team many expect them to compete with for a chance to reach the NBA Finals — the Clippers, on July 30 in Orlando, Fla.

The Lakers received the news Friday when the league announced the schedule for the eight “seeding games” that will take place for the 22 teams headed to ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

The Lakers will play the Toronto Raptors on Aug. 1, the Utah Jazz on Aug. 3, the Oklahoma City Thunder on Aug. 5, the Houston Rockets on Aug. 6, the Indiana Pacers on Aug. 8, the Denver Nuggets on Aug. 10, and the Sacramento Kings on Aug. 13.

When the NBA was shut down on March 11 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lakers had produced the best record in the Western Conference at 49-14 and finally had defeated Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and the Clippers for the first time in three meetings this season.

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Sixteen NBA players have tested positive for the coronavirus in the league’s opening round of testing, the NBA and its players’ union announced Friday.

With LeBron James and Anthony Davis leading the way, the Lakers had won 11 of their last 13 games before the season was placed on pause.

They had impressive victories over the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks (53-12) and the Clippers, who were 5½ games behind the Lakers when the season was suspended indefinitely.

The NBA keeps inching toward a return but the league and medical experts know obstacles still exist. As players return to teams, COVID-19 testing ramps up.

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Because all the games will be played at a neutral site, the Lakers will lose the home-court advantage they had hoped to secure during the regular season. The opening game between the Lakers and Clippers will be nationally televised on TNT.

The Lakers won’t have defensive stalwart Avery Bradley, who has opted not to play because of health concerns for his son. The Lakers are considering signing free-agent guard J.R. Smith as a replacement for Bradley.

The Lakers are waiting to hear a decision from center Dwight Howard, who many in the organization believe is leaning toward playing, according to people not authorized to speak on the matter.

Avery Bradley played a critical role in the Lakers’ success this season, so his opting out of the NBA’s restart leaves the team with a big hole to fill.

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Lakers’ NBA restart schedule

(All times PDT)

July 30: vs. Clippers, 6

Aug. 1: vs. Toronto, 5:30

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Aug. 3: vs. Utah, 6

Aug. 5: vs. Oklahoma City, 3:30

Aug. 6: vs. Houston, 6

Aug. 8: vs. Indiana, 3

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Aug. 10: vs. Denver, 6

Aug 13: vs. Sacramento, TBD


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