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Second half of Lakers’ schedule won’t let up a punishing rhythm

Out of the All-Star break, the Lakers will now know who they have lined up and be prepared.

But will Anthony Davis be ready?

That’s the lingering question for the defending champions, who learned on Wednesday where they’ll be going and who they’ll be facing for the final 35 games of the shortened 72-game schedule. The Lakers (22-10) have the good fortune of not having to make up games like some teams will, but that doesn’t make it much easier, facing eight back-to-backs and one seven-game road swing that will take them through Brooklyn before the end of the regular season.

Davis, 27, is expected to miss four weeks total with a right calf strain which puts him in jeopardy for a slate that pits the Lakers against Indiana, Golden State, Minnesota, Charlotte and Atlanta. The Lakers are 5-4 without Davis so far this season, a record which took a hit after losing three straight for the first time this year.

The Lakers will have 15 of their games aired on either ESPN/ABC or TNT in the second half, including banner tilts at home with Milwaukee (March 31), Boston (April 15), consecutive games with Utah (April 17 and 19) and Denver (May 3). The Lakers will also have tough road games at Miami (April 8), Brooklyn (April 10) and a pair of games at New Orleans (March 23 and May 16). They face the rival Clippers twice in “road” games at Staples (April 4 and May 6).

Players and coaches have already complained that the grind of the schedule is difficult under pandemic-induced circumstances, but it doesn’t let up for the Lakers: After playing just five  back-to-backs in the first half, they’ll have eight in the second. That includes several in succession, although the NBA has given two days off in between back-to-backs to prevent teams from playing four games in five nights.

The Lakers will have another long road trip of seven games, though the second will be played in Staples Center against the Clippers. From there, they’ll swing to Tampa Bay (where the Toronto Raptors are playing this season), Miami, Brooklyn and New York before wrapping up the East Coast excursion in Charlotte against rookie and Chino Hills product LaMelo Ball.

The schedule is liable to test the Lakers’ appetite for resting their stars, especially if injury and fatigue issues continue. LeBron James said on Monday night that he’s not interested in resting: “I’ve been hearing it for five, six, seven years now and I’m still going strong.” But both James and Frank Vogel have acknowledged resting for health purposes will be an ongoing discussion as the Lakers hope to keep the 36-year-old MVP candidate intact for the playoffs.

LAKERS 2020-21 SECOND HALF SCHEDULE (all times Pacific)

March 12 – Indiana, 7:30 p.m.

March 15 – at Golden State, 7:30 p.m.

March 16 – Minnesota, 7:30 p.m.

March 18 – Charlotte, 7:30 p.m.

March 20 – Atlanta, 12:30 p.m.

March 21 – at Phoenix, 7 p.m.

March 23 – at New Orleans, 4:30 p.m.

March 25 – Philadelphia, 7 p.m.

March 26 – Cleveland, 7:30 p.m.

March 28 – Orlando, 7 p.m.

March 31 – Milwaukee, 7 p.m.

April 2 – at Sacramento, 7 p.m.

April 4 – at Clippers, 12:30 p.m.

April 6 – at Toronto (Tampa), 4:30 p.m.

April 8 – at Miami, 4:30 p.m.

April 10 – at Brooklyn, 5:30 p.m.

April 12 – at New York, 4:30 p.m.

April 13 – at Charlotte, 5 p.m.

April 15 – Boston, 7 p.m.

April 17 – Utah, 1:30 p.m.

April 19 – Utah, 7 p.m.

April 22 – at Dallas, 6:30 p.m.

April 24 – at Dallas, 5:30 p.m.

April 26 – at Orlando, 4 p.m.

April 28 – at Washington, 4 p.m.

April 30 – Sacramento, 7:30 p.m.

May 2 – Toronto, 7 p.m.

May 3 – Denver, 7 p.m.

May 6 – at Clippers, 7 p.m.

May 7 – at Portland, 7 p.m.

May 9 – Phoenix, 7 p.m.

May 11 – New York, 7:30 p.m.

May 12 – Houston, 7:30 p.m.

May 15 – at Indiana, TBD

May 16 – at New Orleans, TBD

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