Photo courtesy of Jeff Gross, Getty Images

March 6, 2014 — 7:30PM (PST)
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TNT
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Lakers battle the Clippers in an inter-city rivalry game with the Lakers as the home team tonight. After the Lakers won impressively vs. Trail Blazers, the Lakers laid an egg, allowing 132 points to a very struggling New Orleans Pelicans team.

Their Clippers will cause more problems vs. the Lakers tonight. PF Blake Griffin has clearly improved his game, scoring 24.2 PPG on 53.2% shooting along with 9.7 RPG. Griffin has devoloped a much better jump-shot and has devoloped more of an all-around post game to score in more various ways instead of only depending on his athleticism. Although NBA analysts still have their jury out on whether or not Griffin can play this well against true post players like Grizzlies PF Zach Randolph, the Lakers will most likely not give him any resistance especially if PF Wesley Johnson has to guard him tonight.

Pau Gasol will lead the lakers tonight. Gasol has made a great case that he can still help the Lakers to another future championship run, scoring 17.5 PPG and grabbing 10.0 RPG, with most of his big games coming within the last 2 months of play. Despite C DeAndre Jordan blossoming into one of the best post defenders in the NBA, Gasol should be able to get his buckets and play well tonight. Even if Gasol does not score up to his average, he can still create problems for the Clippers defense if the ball goes through Gasol since he has the intelligence to create shots for others.

Projected Starters

PGChris Paul / Kendall Marshall [Advantage: Clippers]

SGDarren Collison / Jodie Meeks [Advantage: Even]

SFMatt Barnes Kent Bazemore [Advantage: Clippers]

PFBlake Griffin / Wesley Johnson [Advantage: Clippers]

CDeAndre Jordan / Pau Gasol [Advantage: Even]

Notable Bench Players

Clippers: F Jared Dudley, G Willie Green, F Danny Granger, F Glen Davis 

Lakers: G Marshon Brooks, PG Jordan Farmar, C Robert Sacre, F Ryan Kelly, G Xavier Henry

Bench Advantage: Lakers

Injury List

Clippers: Out-G JJ Redick, Doubtful-G Jamal Crawford, Questionable-SF Jared Dudley

Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant, Out-PG Steve Nash, Out-G Nick Young

Keys for Lakers Victory

Prevent Fastbreak Points : The Lakers’ defense once again had a poor effort defensively, allowing 132 points to a bad Pelicans team. In order for the Lakers to win tonight, they have to force players like PG Chris Paul and Griffin to high contested shots. The Clippers, along with the Lakers, thrive off of fastbreak baskets, something the Lakers cannot afford to give up in order to have any chance of winning tonight. For the Lakers to limit the Clippers strength, they need to slow the game down tonight and continue to feed the ball to Gasol in order to slow down the Clippers.

Bottom Line

The Clippers seek to prepare for the playoffs, while the Lakers seek to prepare for the lottery. However, the Lakers play much better when their game is broadcasted on national TV, so the Lakers will come out and play with a lot of effort vs. Clippers. However, the Clippers just simply possess more talent than the Lakers, and will pull away from the Lakers in the 2nd half.

Prediction

Clippers: 113-104