Pregame Pep Talk: Every game we play is a game we should win. We are the freaking L.A. Lakers; it is our birthright. The fact that we get to exercise this right over the Kings — I would say Queens, but they don’t have anyone left from that roster — Four more times and twice this week is just an added bonus.
The only downside to playing them twice this week is that I’ll have to come up with something new for the Pregame Pep Talk on Sunday.
It’s a small price to pay though.
Marquee Match Ups -
Point Guard – Derek Fisher and Jordan Farmar vs. Beno Udrih: One of our point guards needs to step up and hit some shots, it’s as simple as that. Although he has an all-around game and can stroke it from the outside, Beno Udrih isn’t the fastest player in the League by any stretch and doesn’t really stand out in any particular way, except that he’s left-handed. This should make it easier for Fisher and Farmar to stay in front of him throughout the game.
Bottom line though, we need more production out of the PG position, and a similar effort to the last two games simply will not get it done.
Advantage: Lakers, but only if they make shots!
Shooting Guard – Kobe Bryant vs. Kevin Martin: Kevin Martin is another player who can shoot from long range but also excels at taking it to the rack and is one of the genuine success stories in the NBA. However, comparing him to Kobe Bryant is like comparing the lighting in the stands to the lighting on the court of a Lakers home game.
Small Forward – Luke Walton vs. Ron Artest: The best two-way talent in the league, former DPOY, lovable headcase — All these describe Ron Artest. Fortunately for us, he’s also been in the habit of having an off shooting night pretty much every other game going back to the Bibby trade, and he shot the ball pretty well against the Heat the other night.
Speaking of lame segues, another good thing about this match up is that Luke has been playing very good offense and defense over the past few games, hopefully this will continue against Artest.
Powe Forward – Lamar Odom vs. Mikki Moore: Possibly the second easiest match up out of the starting five. No offense to Moore (I followed him last year with the Nets and he has a good outside stroke to go with his hustle based inside game — A veteran Turiaf if you will) but he is too scrawny to handle Odom down-low on defense and his offensive post game lacks any sort of finesse whatsoever. He worked well in NJ because he had Kidd setting him up for easy looks and ally-oops, and he doesn’t get quite the same service now.
Center – Pau Gasol vs. Brad Miller: Two 7-footers who can shoot out to the 3-point line, are excellent passers and arn’t famous for their defense. Neither has the speed or the size advantage, or any advantage that I can see. Who wins this battle depends on who’s teammates make the effort to get them involved
Bench: Our bench trio is in an offensive funk right now. I would like to see Sasha and Farmar penetrate a little more instead of settling for three pointers and Ronny should be looking for his shot a little more. If he has the open 12ft jump shot that is definitely in his range. Hitting those would make his defender respect him more on the pic and roll instead of staying back.
The good news is that the defense is still there and these are hustle players, and sooner or later hustle is rewarded. The other good news is that, apart from John Salmons -Sacramento’s, and therefor a poor man’s, Ginobli- the Kings don’t have much of a bench to speak of. Anthony Johnson and Shelden Williams are still not fully integrated into the team and until they are, their starters are having to shoulder most of the minutes.
Key Match-Up(s) -
Offense – Gasol vs. Miller: Since both these players are pretty evenly matched, the player with the hotter hand could decide the contest. Also, according to my 50% theory that I presented in the last preview, we will lose if Pau shoots under 50%, so it is imperative that he finds his shooting form.
Defense – Kobe vs. Kevin Martin: We need Kobe to pretend that K-Mart is Wade and really, really shut him down in order for this to be a successful blowout.
Seriously though, this kid can score in bunches and, if Kobe isn’t paying diligent attention, he may get too hot for even Kobe to shut down. Like Marc Jackson says “great offense always beats great defense.”
Let’s Play Coach!
Lakers: Easy shots. Everyone, other than Kobe, needs easy shots to get themselves out of their respective shooting slump. Kobe and Fish should be looking for Pau on the S/R, Farmar and Sasha should try to drive to the basket to either take a shot or kick it out to Fisher or the other guard in the corner, and Lamar should promise to not attempt a single 3 pointer, no matter how open he is. Odds are, they’re going to put Artest on Kobe, so Luke is really going to have to post up K-Mart and take advantage of that.
Sacramento: Single coverage of Gasol. Right now, Gasol is in a shooting slump and has been ineffective at times in the post on isolation plays. Their best bet in slowing Kobe down will be to double off of Luke or Fisher because Luke has yet to regain his mid-long range shooting form and Fisher seems to have lost his entirely.
Statistical Predictions -
I was a bit off with the 5 blocks from Ronny, but that was assuming Kidd would drive to the basket a lot in the half court set. Anyhow, today’s predictions…
20+ Points: Kobe, Gasol, and Lamar.
10+ Rebounds: Gasol, Lamar, and Walton.
3+ Blocks: Turiaf.
Out On A Limb: Lamar has a triple-double.
Game Information -
Radio: KLAC & KWKW
Television: KCAL HD & CSNSAC HD
Online: NBA LP
Burning Questions/Sage Answers -
As the title suggests, this is the section where I will answer some of your burning Questions with Sage answers.
Migs: I can’t believe you called no advantage between Dirk and Lamar, Odom is more often a scrub than an all-star and Dirk is the reigning MVP, as proven by yesterday’s game.
Jonny: I thought Lamar did a fantastic job guarding Dirk throughout the game. Considering that Dirk is essentially a 7-foot fadeaway jump shooter Lamar did exceptionally well to contest a lot of his shots. Offensively though he did under-perform, and that’s why, and if you look back you’ll see, I called no advantage only if Lamar continued his fine form.
Fomaer Big: [Besides, we have three token Euros to their one, and anytime you have token Euros doubling as the token white guys on your team, you obviously have style. <— ] What the hell is that?
Jonny: That, my friend, was an attempt at humor. God knows I could fall asleep reading my own writing sometimes so I try to inject humor, often times via sarcasm, as often as possible. This tends to either make people laugh or piss them off, but either way they get through to the end.