- The Clippers will welcome back shooting guard J.J. Redick when they host the Lakers tonight at Staples Center and he’ll be jetted straight into the starting lineup. Redick has been out since suffering right hand and wrist injuries Nov. 23 against the Kings when he took a hard fall after colliding with DeMarcus Cousins. He was averaging 15.8 points at the time, which is third-best among the Clippers who will be available tonight. The best asset Redick brings is 3-point shooting. He’s a career 43.1-percent shooter from beyond the arc and was up to 46 percent this season when he went down with the injury. Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Redick has been making a lot of shots in practice lately and probably could have played in Wednesday’s victory against the visiting Celtics but Rivers wanted to give him one more practice Thursday.
- The addition of Redick to the starting lineup will move Jamal Crawford back to the bench, but Rivers expects that to benefit all involved. Crawford, the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2010 with the Hawks and runner-up last season with the Clippers, has struggled with his shooting in the 14 games since moving into a starting role. Crawford is averaging 17.5 shots a game in that span but is converting just 37.4 percent from the field, dropping his season mark to 40.8. The decision to put Redick into the starting lineup right away and get Crawford back with the second unit was boosted by the bench’s inability to score against the Celtics, Rivers said.
- Jodie Meeks will likely open the game guarding Redick now that he has been freed up from emergency point guard duties with the arrival of Kendall Marshall from the D-League. Meeks has played well since paired alongside Marshall in the starting backcourt, averaging a team-high 21.5 points in the last four games while contributing 2.3 steals on the defensive end.
- The Lakers will field a considerably different starting lineup than they did in their season-opening win against the Clippers on Oct. 29. Steve Nash (back) and Steve Blake (elbow) are sidelined and Shawne Williams was released earlier in the week. Nick Young comes off the bench now, leaving Pau Gasol as the only returning starter from that game. Also, the two leading scorer for the Lakers that night, Xavier Henry (knee) and Jordan Farmer (hamstring), aren’t available. Chris Paul (shoulder) is the only opening-night starter who’s out for the Clippers.
– Dan Arritt