The (29-8) Los Angeles Lakers are on the front end of their annual Texas two-step in San Antonio tonight to face the (22-13) Spurs. The Lakers are looking to snap a three-game road losing streak.
The Lakers have the league’s best record, but aren’t playing like the league’s top team. The team isn’t at full strength with Pau Gasol out, but that just means that the other players have to step up.
The Lakers haven’t lost the season series to the Spurs since 2006. This game will the first of four games against San Antonio. Spurs are in a bit of funk, they have lost two of their last four games. However, the Spurs always play the Lakers tough and today’s game won’t be any different.
The task at hand will be slowing down the Spurs big three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli. The Lakers need to stop the dribble penetration of Tony Parker and force him to shoot a jump shot as opposed to allowing him to hurt the Lakers with the dribble drive or his patented one-man fast break.
Lakers’ Andrew Bynum has stepped his game up with three straight double-doubles to include a very impressive career high 18 rebounds. I believe he matches up well with Tim Duncan and should play well tonight.
The Lakers have to shoot well as a team; Kobe has had some poor shooting nights recently (shooting 33.3% in last four games) dealing with different splints attempting to find a mess between support and protection.
San Antonio does a good job of moving the basketball and playing inside out to find open shooters behind the arc.
I have to say that this is a different San Antonio team than the one the Lakers saw last year. Roger Mason and George Hill all do a good job of spotting up behind the arc and knocking down open shots. The main difference is the resurgent of Tim Duncan and his production in the painted area.
The Spurs calling card has been defense for a while and they’re holding opponents to 95 points per game.
The Lakers came out of the locker room with the right mentality in the game against the Bucks and that is the mentality that this team needs to start every game with. The Lakers are a better team when they come out aggressive and attack the rim early and often.
Look for Kobe to shoot better and lead his team tonight. I fully expect to see the Lakers play well as a team and be very active defensively. The Lakers need to use excellent ball movement, excellent player movement, and find the open man. Andrew, Lamar and D.J. Mbenga will play well in the paint.
The Spurs have a solid record but it must be said that they’ve yet to beat a team with a winning record since November.
Tip-off: 5:30 PM PST
- Los Angeles: KCAL (Joel Myers & Stu Lantz)
- San Antonio: My35 (Bill Land & Sean Elliott)
- Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- San Antonio: WOAI-AM 1200 (Bill Schoening)
- Pau Gasol (Hamstring) Out
- Luke Walton (Back) Out
- Kobe Bryant ( Avulsion fracture of his right index finger)
- PF Matt Bonner (Hand)
- SG Michael Finley (Ankle)