The Lakers conclude their abbreviated pre-season tonight with round two against their vastly improved red, white and blue clad co-tenants. The Lakers were in the game until posting a forgettable third quarter, which included nine turnovers. The first contest of the new season for the purple and gold had to be the most over analyzed pre-season game in NBA history.
Granted the goal is to play well and win whenever a Laker puts on a purple and gold jersey. However, it is a known fact that pre-season games are merely glorified practices. Trust me on this; at the end of the year, when a team puts together a “year in review” report, it isn’t by accident that the pre-season results are missing.
The Clippers were as advertised young, athletic, exciting to watch and deadly when led by an excellent floor general like Chris Paul. Thanks to David J. Stern and the undisputed quote of the year “Basketball Reasons”, the Clippers have a solid team. The Clippers are like the cute new girl at school, she has everyone’s attention for the moment. This does not mean that all of the other girls have all of a sudden gotten uglier. Just because you have new toys does not mean that you need to neglect the old ones.
In regards to Monday night – here is the good, the bad and the ugly. The good, the immediate impact of rookie Darius Morris, the Lakers rebounding, the development of Devin Ebanks, Jason Kapono’s shooting and Kobe Bryant dropping 22 points. The Bad, the Lakers shooting from the field (44.8%), the free throw line (68.3 %), Bynum & Gasol taking 21 shots and combining for only 31 points, no minutes for Andrew Goudelock, Elijah Millsap, Zach Andrews and Malcolm Thomas. The Ugly, the Lakers conditioning, overall defense and most importantly allowing another opponent to shoot 46.4 % from behind the arc, the 21 turnovers that were converted into 29 points, Matt Barnes, Metta World Peace & Luke Walton combining for three points.
The Lakers, like every other team in the league, are a work in progress. Every member of the purple and gold will follow Kobe Bryant’s lead and commit to defense and hard work. The Lakers will improve their execution with practice. The purple and gold will improve as a team when the players learn the system and have more familiarity with each other.
A few things that this writer is looking to see in tonight’s game. The Lakers defensive adjustments, conditioning, pick and roll defense especially seeing players closing out to perimeter shooters behind the arc and controlling the boards. The Lakers ball movement and player movement has to improve. The Lakers need to get the ball inside to Pau Gasol & Andrew Bynum, both players have to be extremely aggressive and attack the basket!
Derek Fisher makes his season debut tonight and will start. However, it would behoove the purple and gold to provide Darius Morris increased minutes as the primary ball handler to change the pace of the game. Kobe Bryant has to be more of a facilitator tonight to get his teammates more involved.
The journey to prove the naysayers and everyone else that has prematurely buried the purple and gold wrong begins on Christmas Day. The Lakers are working hard to redeem themselves and get the bad taste of losing in the playoffs out of their mouths. The journey is a marathon and not a sprint, the; words that will define the Lakers this season are hard work, defense and Hunger!
Lakers: D. Fisher, J. Kapono, M. Barnes, P. Gasol, A. Bynum
Clippers: C. Paul, C. Billups, C. Butler, B. Griffin, D. Jordan
Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST
- Los Angeles: KCAL 9 (Bill Macdonald & Stu Lantz)
- Los Angeles: Prime Ticket (Ralph Lawler & Mike Smith)
- Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (John Ireland & Mychal Thompson)
- Los Angeles: KFWB 980 (Ralph Lawler, Mike Smith & Brian Sieman)
- Derrick Caracter (Torn Meniscus) Out
- Steve Blake (Sore Right Knee) Probable
- Kobe Bryant (Torn Wrist Ligament) Out
- Devin Ebanks (Sore Right Foot) Day-to-Day