Merry Christmas, Laker Nation!
Once again it’s on, another Christmas Day game in downtown Los Angeles, CA. The start of the NBA season has the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center to host the Chicago Bulls. The Lakers had a tumultuous off-season, a Chris Paul trade shot down for “basketball reasons”, Lamar Odom traded away and Kobe Bryant will start the season with a torn ligament in his right wrist.
The Lakers are a work in progress and are in the process of putting the pieces of the puzzle together. Several have thrown dirt on the faces of the Lakers and prematurely buried this team. An important quote comes to mind “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.”
The foundation of the 2011-2012 season will be hard work, defense, rebounding and teamwork. It was former Lakers coach Rudy Tomjanovich who said, “Never underestimate the heart of a champion”; there are several champions that STILL wear a purple and gold jersey to work.
The Lakers will not start the season as one of the favorites, but will be a playoff team. The Lakers have waived Gerald Green, Chris Daniels, Malcolm Thomas, Zach Andrews and Elijah Millsap to trim their roster to 15.
The purple and gold embark on a truncated season that will see the team play 66-games in 123 days. The Lakers will play six games in eight days and several back-to-back-to-back games. There are three early bright spots of the season, one will be seeing Kobe Bryant & Devin Ebanks in the starting lineup and the other is the league deciding to knock off one game off Andrew Bynum’s five-game suspension.
The Chicago Bulls present a good challenge for the Lakers. The Lakers split the season series with the Bulls last year. The Lakers have won seven of their last eight against Chicago. L.A. is eight and two against the Bulls in their last 10 games. The Lakers are 10-2 all-time against the Bulls at Staples Center, winners of eight of their last nine games.
The Bulls recently extended the contract of point guard Derrick Rose, the league’s youngest MVP. The Bulls had the most wins in the association last year with 62. The Tom Thibodeau coached Bulls are a tremendous defensive team that finished the season ranked 2nd in points allowed (91.3 per game) & rebounding (44.2 per game), 9th in assists (22.3 per game) and 20th in points per game (98.6).
The game brings two former USC Trojans back home in Taj Gibson (& Brian Scalabrine. The Lakers need to control the tempo of the game and not allow the Bulls to get into transition. Play with energy, focus, determination and most importantly take care of the ball and limit turnovers. The purple and gold have to stop the dribble penetration of Derrick Rose, do a good job defending the screen and roll play, everyone needs to get involved to out-rebound the Bulls, limit the Bulls to one shot per possession and quickly rotate out to open shooters.
The Lakers offensively need to start the offense from the inside and establish Pau Gasol in the post. The Lakers need to execute their offense, using proper spacing, excellent ball movement and excellent player movement to find high percentage shots attacking the basket.
The Lakers front line Devin Ebanks, Josh McRoberts & Pau Gasol have to play aggressive on both ends of the court and attack the rim. It will be nice to see two of the three score in double digits. The continued development of young players D.Ebanks, D. Morris, J. McRoberts and Andrew Goudelock will bring huge dividends. The Lakers bench has to be a factor this season producing 35+ points per game.
Lakers: D. Fisher, K. Bryant, D.Ebanks, J. McRoberts, P.Gasol
Bulls: D. Rose, R. Hamilton, L. Deng, C. Boozer, J. Noah
Tip-off: 2:00 PM PST
- Los Angeles: ABC
- Chicago: ABC
- Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (John Ireland & Mychal Thompson)
- Chicago: ESPN 1000 AM (Chuck Swirsky & Bill Wennington)
- Derrick Caracter (Torn Lateral Meniscus, Left Knee) Out
- Devin Ebanks (Sore Right Foot) Probable
- Kobe Bryant (Torn Lunotriquetral Ligament, Right Wrist) Will Play
- Andrew Bynum (Suspension, game 1 of 4)