Battle of L.A. – Lakers vs. Clippers: Act 1

Photo by Harry How | Getty Images

The (9-4) Los Angeles Lakers are on the road, technically, (in their own building) to face the (5-3) Los Angeles Clippers. Thanks to David Stern, the Clippers have vastly improved although all of those naysayers that prematurely buried the Lakers have to re-evaluate those thoughts.

Chris Paul was supposed to join Kobe Bryant and help the Lakers win their third championship in four years. David Stern and the league office had other ideas and with one bizarre decision added new life to the Staples Center hallway series.

Mike Brown and the Lakers are on a five-game winning streak after beating his former team the Cavaliers. Dan Gilbert owner of the Cavaliers fired Brown after five successful seasons in Cleveland although Brown has moved on and harbors no hard feelings. The Lakers led by Kobe Bryant’s third straight 40-point game. It was the first time since 2007 that has occurred

Bryant produced his 110th 40-point game of his career placing him 3rd in NBA history, trailing only Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan. Kobe Bryant has been on fire, scoring at least 30-points in seven of his last eight games. Derek Fisher posted a 10-assist game, getting double-digit assists for the 15th time in his 16th season.

The Clippers have had a two-day rest prior to tonight’s game. The Clippers are coming off an impressive come from behind win over the Miami Heat. The Clippers present several challenges for the Lakers.

The Lakers have to play sound defensively. Chris Paul is a handful to deal with. The Lakers have to do a solid job defending the pick-and-roll play, stop the dribble penetration, control the tempo, get back in transition, box out the Clippers, attack the boards and rotate out to open shooters.

The Lakers need to take care of the ball, cut down on their turnovers, use solid ball movement and player movement to find high percentage shots. The Lakers need execute in their half court offense and score on every possession.

It is not advantageous for the Lakers to get into a track meet with the Clippers. The Lakers might have to play some zone defense tonight to slow down the Clippers. The Lakers will play their most athletic line up at some point, which has to be Darrius Morris, Kobe, Devin Ebanks, Matt Barnes and Josh McRoberts.

The zone defense should help the Lakers stay in front of their men and avoid giving up lob passes for Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan to finish. The Lakers can execute in the half-court offense and need to establish Andrew Bynum & Pau Gasol in the painted area and allow them to attack on the inside.

The Lakers bigs need to be aggressive, attack the rim to put the onus on the official to make a call and at the worse send them to the free throw line. This tactic could result in foul trouble for the Clippers and a way to test the depth of their front line.

The Lakers are providing playing time to the young trio of Darrius Morris, Devin Ebanks, and Andrew Goudelock their development needs to continue. The Lakers are a team in need of athleticism and the young trio can provide that. The Lakers bench has to make an impact and knock down shots.

Lakers: D. Fisher, K. Bryant, M. Barnes, P. Gasol, A. Bynum

Clippers: C. Paul, C. Billups, C. Butler, B. Griffin, D. Jordan

Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST

Television -

  • Los Angeles: KCAL 9 (Bill Macdonald & Stu Lantz)
  • Los Angeles: C. Paul, C. Billups, C. Butler, B. Griffin, D. Jordan

Radio -

  • Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (John Ireland & Mychal Thompson)
  • Los Angeles: Prime Ticket (Ralph Lawler & Mike Smith)

Injuries -

Lakers:

  • Derrick Caracter (Torn Lateral Meniscus, Left Knee) Out
  • Kobe  Bryant (Torn Lunotriquetral Ligament, Right Wrist) Probable
  • Pau Gasol (Sprained Right Shoulder) Probable
  • Steve Blake (Bruised Ribs) Out

      Clippers:

  • Mo Williams (Right Foot) Out
  • Eric Bledsoe (Torn Right Lateral Meniscus) Out
Jeff Little is the pre-game writer for LakerNation.com. Follow him on Twitter.