It’s April 3, 2012 and the (33-20) Los Angeles Lakers face the (19-35) New Jersey Nets in a trap game at the Staples Center. The good news, the Lakers beat the Golden State Warriors (120-112) for the second time in five days by producing a season-high 120 points.
Kobe Bryant bounced back and dropped 40 points; Bryant, Pau Gasol and Ramon Sessions’ combined to score 89 of the Lakers 120 points. The Lakers received a contribution from their bench and every reserve, that received playing time, scored at least one basket.
The bad news, Andrew Bynum tracking a rebound came down on Josh McRoberts foot and sprained his left ankle; the Lakers allowed 100+ points for the fifth time in their last 10 games. The Lakers had 15 turnovers, allowed 42 points in the paint and the reserves outscored 41-22 by the Warriors reserves.
The soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets decimated by injuries and are not in the playoff picture, but are riding a three-game winning streak. The Lakers swept the last season’s series (2-0) for the third consecutive year and have won seven straight games overall against the New Jersey Nets by an average of 15 points. The Lakers are 9-1 in their last 10 games against the Nets. The Lakers are 8-4 all-time against the Nets at the Staples Center. In 23 games (including 19 starts) against the Nets, Kobe Bryant is averaging 22.4 points per game, his second lowest average against any team in the league (Bryant is averaging 22.1 against the Atlanta Hawks).
The Lakers defense has appeared to be on a hiatus over their last ten games correcting this deficiency has to become a priority focus with the playoffs quickly approaching. For the Lakers to achieve their eighth straight win over the Nets’ it is imperative to contain Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace and Anthony Morrow. The Lakers will have to do so without the services of Andrew Bynum who is out with a sprained ankle.
Deron Williams is averaging 21.9 points & 11.9 assists per game. Gerald Wallace has been a problem for the Lakers with his activity, averaging 21 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and four steals in his last two games. Kris Humphries is averaging 13.4 points & 11 rebounds. Anthony Morrow is averaging 12.6 points, but shot 6-for-11 from behind the arc and scored 24 points off the bench.
The Lakers to avoid being caught looking ahead to Wednesday’s battle of Los Angeles against the Clippers and focus on beating the Nets tonight. The Lakers have to communicate on defense; do a solid job defending the pick-and-roll play, stop Deron Williams’ dribble penetration, get back in transition, out-rebound the Nets and quickly rotate out to open shooters. The Lakers have to limit the Nets to one shot per possession.
The Lakers have to continue to improve their ball movement and player movement to find a high percentage shot. The Lakers need to continue to start their offense inside by establishing Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant in the post. Pau Gasol has to catch the ball close to the basket, be extremely aggressive and attack the basket.
The Lakers need to play a 48-miute game with a contribution from everyone in a purple and gold jersey. The Lakers need to start working Andrew Goudelock, Darrius Morris and Devin Ebanks into the rotation their contribution is needed.
Lakers: R. Sessions, K. Bryant, M. Peace, T. Murphy, P. Gasol
Nets: D. Williams, M. Brooks, G. Wallace, K. Humphries, J. Petro
Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST
- Los Angeles: FS West (Bill Macdonald & Stu Lantz)
- New Jersey: YESN (Ian Eagle & Jim Spanarkel)
- Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (John Ireland & Mychal Thompson)
- New Jersey: WFAN 660 (Chris Carrino & Tim Capstraw)
- Andrew Bynum (Sprained Left Ankle) Out
- Jordan Hill (Sprained MCL, Right Knee) Questionable
- Sheldon Williams (Eye) Day-to-Day
- Jordan Farmar (Groin) Day-to-Day
- Brook Lopez (Sprained Right Ankle) Out