In advertising, sex sells.
In basketball? Lakers sell. Check out this little excerpt from the Hornet’s official site…
“If you were still hoping to purchase tickets to Friday night’s 7 p.m. Lakers-Hornets game at the New Orleans Arena, it’s too late. The team announced Thursday that the game is completely sold out, making it the seventh capacity crowd of the season.”
At least we’ve got that going for us, now on to the game…
Marquee Matchups -
Point Guard – Derek Fisher and Jordan Farmar vs. Chris Paul: Truly, the Lakers seem to enjoy making opposing PG’s look like HOF’ers. That’s why having a MVP candidate manning the point makes me more than a little queasy. He’s fast, he’s quick, and he knows how to finish around the rim. I’ve even heard references of Tony Parker being a poor man’s CP3. when a poor man’s Big Shot Rob (Fisher) goes up against a rich man’s Tony Parker, you kind of have to hope CP3 has an off night.
On the plus side, a lot of the damage that CP3 does defensively comes from guarding a ball dominating PG and going for steals. If our PGs become more spot-up corner 3-ball shooters, that will eliminate most of his defensive edge.
Shooting Guard – Kobe Bryant vs. Morris Peterson: He had that one great year with the Raptors and now it’s as if he’s faded into the background. He does however, remain a dangerous 3-point shooter, and is exactly the kind of guy Kobe might get too confident about. I mean, the dude is the guy Kobe scored a bunch of his 81 on. On a side note Kelly Dwyer though he actually played good defensively that night.
Still, the word on the street was that Kobe plays pretty well injured, so I’m not to worried about this match up.
Small Forward – Vlad Rad vs. Peja Stojakovic: It’s finally manifested; the final battle (during the regular season) between the master and the apprentice. With all the excitement and attention garnered by Paul’s performances, Peja is often the forgotten man. He’s been shooting the ball extremely well from behind the arc (46%) and has been making an average of three of those a game. Vlad Rad is a pretty much a forgotten story on the Lakers too, but that’s actually his own fault, as his 0-5 performance against the Raptors pretty much typifies his inconsistent play this season. However, if you’re looking to get about half the offensive contribution and about the same level of defensive impact, Vlad Rad doesn’t disappoint.
Power Forward – Lamar Odom vs. David West: He’s everything to CP3 that we hoped Odom would be for Kobe. A reliable second option and 0.1 points away from being a 20/9 guy, he also chips in with about a steal and block per game. This shouldn’t take anything away from Odom though, as he has been absolutely spectacular in recent memory. The last game against the Raptors is probably the most dominating he’s been in a Lakers uniform ever. If he can manage to consistently start replicating even just one of those two minute spurts where he leaves his mark on the game, we might finally be able to stop talking potential and start talking All-Star.
Center – Pau Gasol vs. Tyson Chandler: Offensive finesse vs. raw defensive power, although to be fair Chandler does have a knack for offensive rebounds and alley-oops. Chandler is a force to be reckoned with in the paint, but with the trigger happy bench duo of Jordan and Sasha, that might not even be a worry…
Jannero Pargo can get hot. Last year with four of their five starters out he absolutely torched us in that game when everyone thought we would win easily. Bonzi Wells is back from injury and could see significant minutes. Other than that I doubt any other bench member is going to make enough of an impact for the Hornets, as they continue to have depth issues. Mike James might make an appearance, but the painful memories of 81 might affect his performance (between him and Mo Pete, the Hornets two of the three players that guarded Kobe on that fateful day… Just a fun fact).
Personally, I prefer our bench trio (someone needs to name them something… and soon).
Lets play coach!
Key Matchups -
Offense – Pau vs. Chandler: The one thing that I haven’t seen that I would love to see more often from Pau is 8-15ft jump shot. We know he can make those consistently, and making Chandler have to respect that shot will really make the Hornets have to adjust how they play defense.
I mean, if Chandler has to play Pau tighter and Kobe drives to the hole, that gives Kobe more room to operate and makes Chandler have to cover more ground to challenge the shot. If Chandler focuses on challenging the shot, then that means Pau, at least, is going to be wide open. And if not? Let the critics complain and the Rockets fans yell about ball-hogging over team play, Kobe will take what the defense gives him, and the Lakers usually like what he takes.
Defense – Fisher vs. Chris Paul: we have to make him a scorer. As illustrated by T.J. Ford in the last game, you can be the quickest fastest point guard and score lotos of points on us, but if you’re dribbling over half the shot clock away trying to find an opportunity to drive or trying to figure out what spot on they floor you want to elevate for that jumper from, then you’re taking your teammates out of the game. And when they’re out of the game they don’t get into good offensive rebounding position and become too cold to make the shots when given the opportunity.
Of course, Chris Paul may be too fast and to good for any of that to matter.
Everything Else: The perimeter defenders need to stay home on their shooters. Hopefully, P.J. talks some sense into Sasha and Farmar and they take it to the hole more. I would try to get Vlad into an offensive rhythm early, but only after getting Pau some easy looks first. Not turning the ball over usually makes the pre-game show’s keys to success, so I thought I’d throw that one in.
Statistical Predictions -
Feel free to copy and past this part into the comments section with your own predictions. I don’t promise to keep track of winners or anything but it’s always fun to predict stuff.
20+ Points: Kobe, Lamar, and Sasha.
10+ Rebounds: Gasol, Lamar, and Kobe.
3+ Blocks: Turiaf.
Closest To A Triple-Double: Kobe.
Out On A Limb: Luke won’t get blocked on his back-turned-to-the-basket-turnaround-hook-shot
Game Information -
Radio: KLAC & KWKW
Television: KCAL & COX
Online: NBA LP
Burning Questions/Sage Answers -
What are the odds that Coby gets non-garbage minutes for the second game in a row?
Does anyone else find it funny that the Nuggets are probably going to be left out of the playoffs (personally I’d prefer the Warriors miss out, because their coach won’t play the promising young rookie that they’ll get in the draft)?
How on earth can we get rid of Luke Walton’s contract? <—- I’m curious about that one.
At this point, is it fair to assume that D.J. Mbenga is getting annoyed with the close games?