Lakers lose prime-time game on ESPN to Suns-Warriors matchup

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It's not often the Los Angeles Lakers get taken out of a prime-time slot. ESPN removed the Lakers-Los Angeles Clippers game out of its Friday prime-time spot, instead opting to air the Golden State Warriors-Phoenix Suns contest, according to Mark Medina of NBA.com.

It's tough to argue with that decision. Sure, the Lakers have star power in Anthony Davis, LeBron James and Russell Westbrook, but the Suns-Warriors matchup involves the two teams with the best records in the NBA. It also helps that Stephen Curry is off to a fantastic start and is the current favorite to win the MVP award, per BetMGM.

In addition to that, James' status for Friday's game was up in the air when ESPN made the decision. James was sidelined due to health and safety reasons, but got cleared to return Thursday.

The Suns and Warriors should be ready for each other. The two teams played Tuesday, with the Suns coming out on top 104-96. It was the most-watched NBA game since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Warriors could get their shot at revenge Friday. Suns star Devin Booker is expected to sit out of Friday's game after injuring his hamstring during Tuesday's contest.  

Don't feel too bad for Lakers fans, though. The team is picking up a prime-time game on ESPN later in December.

Lakers still trying to find their footing

The Lakers' mighty star power hasn't resulted in dominance this season. The team is just 12-11, and currently sits in the seventh spot in the Western Conference. The Lakers aren't bad, but the team hasn't lived up to expectations yet. With Davis, James and Westbrook, the team should sit near the top of the standings in the West.

The Lakers still have plenty of time to figure things out. Having James stay healthy for an extended period of time might get them back on track. He missed eight games in November due to an abdominal injury, and was inactive for Tuesday's game due to health and safety reasons. James' second absence won't last long, as he was cleared to return Thursday.

When healthy, James has matched his production from last season. Both Davis and Westbrook continue to put up strong numbers as well, so there's no need for Lakers fans to hit the panic button just yet.

LeBron James with the Lakers.
The Lakers got bumped from a prime-time game. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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