In their first game of a four-game road trip the Los Angeles Lakers travel to face off against the floundering Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night. The game tips off at 7 p.m. ET. As L.A. bides their time until Steve Nash makes his return to the lineup, the Cavaliers welcome back Kyrie Irving.
The Cavaliers lost nine of 13 during Irving’s 11-game absence but were just 2-8 with Irving in the lineup and have completely fallen out of the Eastern Conference playoff race and back into prime draft lottery position. Irving broke his finger on Nov. 17 against the Dallas Mavericks and was expected to miss a month of action but is returning after just three weeks out of action. Irving should have his way with starting point guard Chris Duhon.
Conversely, Nash has been out for over a month stemming from a fractured fibula suffered in an Oct. 31 collision with the Trailblazers’ Damian Lillard that was originally supposed to keep him out of action for approximately a week or two. According to what Nash told the USA Today, his recovery may last into its second month.
"I think it will be at least another two weeks," Nash told the newspaper late Monday night. "I can move. I can shoot. I just can't run full speed. And I'm not even in shape. I'll probably need at least a week of practice once I start running."
The Lakers are just 9-12 and have just one win in their last five games. Power forward Pau Gasol will also miss his fifth straight game with tendinitis in his knees meaning Kobe Bryant will have to continue shooting at his league-leading rate. However, the Lakers are 1-9 when their franchise’s all-time leading scorer tallies 30-plus, 5-3 when he scores between 20-29, and 3-0 when he scores less than 20.
Where To Watch Online: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Besides Bryant, Dwight Howard has been one of the few bright spots for the Lakers when he’s not clanking free throws. Howard will be matched up against Anderson Varejao, who is having another career year without LeBron James.
Varejao is averaging 14.5 points and a league-leading 15.2 rebounds per game this season.