Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions Lance Stephenson is questionable with a sprained toe. He’s missed nine of the last 10 games.Looking back, the Lakers’ post-All-Star stretch has been filled with frustrating losses. When asked if road defeats to Memphis and Phoenix, as well as a home loss to the Clippers, stood out, Walton affirmed they were among the “more painful ones.” But Walton also said since the Lakers have dropped from contention, it’s been hard to quibble with the team’s professionalism in practice and film, if not the overall results.“I think they’ve done a nice job of being professional,” he said. “There’s nights when we’re throwing out our G League guys and we’re only playing LeBron a certain amount of minutes when he is playing and the guys are giving what they have. And I think that speaks to them and shows that they still care and they still want to win.” Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers Related Articles Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years EL SEGUNDO — It’s been over for a long time. But after Friday night’s game, it could be officially finished.The Lakers (31-40), losers of 11 of their last 13 games, are facing elimination from the postseason against the Brooklyn Nets for tip-off at Staples Center. As of Friday morning, the team was 10½ games out of eighth place with 11 games to go.It’s been a given that the day would come. But to have it come March 22 might have been a lot sooner than even the most pessimistic fan would guess. Still, Coach Luke Walton insisted the elimination game didn’t change much about the Lakers’ current situation.“We obviously had goals of being in the playoffs this year,” he said. “But as far as that marker goes, what’s important for us is we come out tonight and play a certain way and try to win a basketball game and that’s it.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersAfter sitting out the previous game in Milwaukee with groin soreness, LeBron James will play. Even through the team’s slide down the standings, James has averaged 29.8 points, 9.0 assists, and 8.2 rebounds per game with 51.9 percent shooting.That hasn’t meant James has escaped criticism as the Lakers have fallen out of contention and beyond. In his last game against the Knicks, James had a particularly painful moment when his potential game-winning shot was blocked by Mario Hezonja.But the 34-year-old said that while he’ll miss the postseason for the first time since 2005 – and while the Lakers are reducing his minutes – it hasn’t damaged his enthusiasm for games.“This is our job,” he said. “And I think playing the game for me personally, playing the game that I love to play is always fun. And you still get an opportunity to compete. I love to compete, so no matter if we are out of the playoffs, in the playoffs or whatever the case may be, to go out and compete versus another team and compete versus other guys, that’s what gets me going every day.”The Lakers will face elimination without Josh Hart, who is out with knee soreness as he consults with doctors on his options about his lingering tendinitis. The possibility remains open that he could join fellow teammates Brandon Ingram (shoulder surgery) and Lonzo Ball (sprained ankle) on the shelf for the rest of the season.