February 23, 2014 — 6:00PM (PST)
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
The Lakers enter tonight’s game riding some momentum and optimism for its on-court product for the first time in months.
The bench carried team to victory in its Friday’s victory vs. Celtics in similar fashion that got them off to a great start this season.
Now, their biggest ammunition from the bench, F/G Nick Young, will return to the floor for the first time in 3 weeks. Young, who suffered a non-displaced fracture of the patella, has arguably been the most consistent Laker this season, bringing instant scoring off the bench and a player who can close out games in absence of SG Kobe Bryant. Scoring 16.9 PPG this season, many voters would have highly considered Young as the front-runner to win the 6th Man of the Year award if the Lakers had more success this season.
Newcomers G Kent Bazemore and G Marshon Brooks, who the Lakers acquired in the PG Steve Blake trade, energized the crowd Friday night by playing with a lot of effort especially on the defensive end. Bazemore, who scored a career high 15 pts. in Friday’s win, will get the start tonight as the Lakers will play small tonight. G Jodie Meeks will slide to the Small Forward position while F Wesley Johnson will start at the Power Forward position.
The Brooklyn Nets are now a much different team since the last time Lakers and Nets played each other in November. The Nets now find themselves in the 8th seed as former Celtics F Paul Pierce and F Kevin Garnett have learned to adapt their game to the rest of the lineup.
G Joe Johnson as lead the Nets to skyrocket up the NBA standings after getting off to a historically slow start that drew a lot of concerns throughout Brooklyn. Johnson can score at will at any point in the game, scoring 15.3 PPG on 43.9 % shooting.
Fans who watch tonight’s game might be witness to a monumental history tonight. C Jason Collins, who announced he is gay during last offseason, signed with the Brooklyn Nets earlier today on a 10-day contract. A 13-year NBA veteran, Collins will bring another asset that will help with team chemistry and still possesses the ability to guard and rebound the ball well whenever Head Coach Jason Kidd calls his number.
If Collins plays tonight, he will become the first openly gay player to ever play an NBA game.
PG - Kendall Marshall / Deron Williams [Advantage: Nets]
SG - Kent Bazemore / Joe Johnson [Advantage: Nets]
SF - Jodie Meeks / Paul Pierce [Advantage: Nets]
PF - Wesley Johnson / Andrei Kirilenko [Advantage: Nets]
C - Pau Gasol / Mason Plumlee [Advantage: Lakers]
Notable Bench Players
Nets: F Andray Blatche, F Mirza Teletovic, G Alan Anderson, C JASON COLLINS
Lakers: G/F NICK YOUNG, PG Jordan Farmar, G Marshon Brooks, C Chris Kaman, F Ryan Kelly
Bench Advantage: Lakers
Nets: Out-C Brook Lopez, Out-F/C Kevin Garnett, Out-C Shaun Livingston, Out-G Marcus Thornton
Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant, Out-PG Steve Nash, Out-G Xavier Henry
Keys for Lakers Victory
Spark from Bench: The Lakers’ entire bench stepped up Friday, closing out the Celtics by playing the entire 4th quarter. Brooks and Bazemore definitely brought energy to a team that lacked any inspiration, engaging fans to the game as they showed appreciation to the newcomers. Although Bazemore will be inserted into the starting lineup tonight, the bench has to contribute as well as they did Friday. Young’s return will instantly boost the Lakers bench, who now have enough healthy bodies to put out on the court.
If the Lakers stay relatively healthy for once and play with the same effort they did on Friday, they possess the ability and skills to close the rest of this season on a positive note in what fans otherwise call a “lost season”. Whether or Laker Nation wants the Lakers to not play well in order to receive a high lottery pick in the upcoming NBA draft is up for debate.
For tonight, the Lakers definitely have the potential of coming away with another home victory.
NOTE: Tonight’s game will be a 6:00 PM start instead of its usual 6:30 Sunday start.