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It’s Monday February 6, 2012 the (14-10) Los Angeles Lakers are on the third stop of their season-long six-game Grammy road trip in the city of brotherly love, Kobe Bryant’s hometown, for a meeting with the (17-7) 76ers. The Lakers fell apart and lost the second game of the road trip to the Utah Jazz.

Head coach Mike Brown is out for tonight’s game. Brown, tossed for arguing a non-call and bumping an official. The league suspended Brown for one game without pay and hit him with a $25,000 fine for making contact with an official and not leaving the court in a timely manner once ejected. A big question is how will his absence affect the outcome of tonight’s game?

The Lakers should be in good shape with a veteran coaching staff and veteran players. The Lakers also possess veteran leadership on the court with Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher. Tonight’s game will be the only Lakers vs. 76ers match up this season after sweeping last year’s season series (2-0) for the second straight year.

The Lakers have won four straight games in Philadelphia. The purple and gold are only 4-6 in their last 10 games at the Wells Fargo Center. The 76ers lost two of their first three games this season, and then won 16 of their next 21 games. Tonight’s game appears to be a match up of size, age and experience versus youth, depth and athleticism.  Kobe Bryant is all business when he returns to Philly.

Bryant is 24 points away from passing Shaquille O’Neal to move into 5th place on the NBA all-time scoring list. Bryant has played 28 games (24 starts) against the 76ers and has averaged 22.6 points. The only other Laker averaging 20+ points is Pau Gasol who has posted on average 21.8 points in 18 games.

Do not be surprised to see Kobe Bryant score 24-points and pass Shaquille O’Neal by the middle of the second quarter. The 76ers are a young, athletic and very energetic team. A superstar player leads the majority of teams in the NBA; Andre Igoudala is the best player on the 76ers, but not considered a superstar.

Igoudala is a solid all-around player quietly bringing it every night. The 76ers are a talented perimeter-oriented team that the Lakers have a size advantage over. The 76ers rank 1st in the league allowing a league-low 86.5 points per game, 5th best in assists averaging 22.3. Philadelphia also ranks eighth in rebounding averaging 43.2 per game, 12th in scoring at 96.8 points per game.

L.A. has to defend the pick-and-roll play, stop the dribble penetration of the guards, box their men out then go after the rebound, control the tempo, rotate out to open shooters and extend their defense out to the three-point line. Doug Collins has done an excellent job of leading this team with a different player standing out on a nightly basis. The Lakers bench cannot allow the 76ers bench to out-score them. The Lakers need consistency and 35+ points from their bench.

It is imperative that the Lakers big three of Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol all play with a lot of energy and execute. The 76ers toughness and defense are impressive; the Lakers have to match the intensity of the 76ers. The Lakers need to start their offense on the inside and give Bynum & Gasol more than enough touches to dominate. The Lakers defense has been solid all season, but there is room for improvement.

Starters
Lakers: D. Fisher, K. Bryant, M. Peace, P.Gasol, A. Bynum
76ers:
J. Holiday, J. Meeks, A. Iguodala, L. Allen, S. Hawes   

Tip-off: 4:00 PM PST

Television

  • Los Angeles: KCAL 9 (Bill Macdonald & Stu Lantz)
  • Philadelphia: Comcast SportsNet (Marc Zumoff & Steve Mix)

Radio

  • Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (John Ireland & Mychal Thompson)
  • Philadelphia: 610 WIP (Tom McGinnis)

Injuries

Lakers:

  • Josh McRoberts (Sprained Left Big Toe) Probable
  • Kobe  Bryant (Torn Lunotriquetral Ligament, Right Wrist) Probable
  • Steve Blake (Bruised Ribs) Out

76ers:

  • Spencer Hawes (Strained Left Achilles) Day-to-Day
  • Elton Brand (Sprained Thumb) Out