The (39-13) Los Angeles Lakers are back at Staples Center to host the (29-20) San Antonio Spurs. The Purple and Gold hit the hardwood at home, after bouncing back from the loss to the Denver Nuggets.
The team made a definitive statement by beating the Trailblazers in Portland without Kobe Bryant. The Lakers assertion was loud and clear that we’re still here and the road to a Championship has to make a few stops at 1111 S. Figueroa Street.
Every Lakers fan knows that the team in general is banged up as well as Kobe Bryant in particular. The question has been out there for a while, “is he going to shut it down and rest for a game or two?” The answer had to be a yes, a road win was necessary, but really wasn’t expected.
To return to the Finals, the Lakers coaching staff knows that the team will have to overcome several uphill battles and challenges. They’re stuck in the role of the hunted as opposed to the hunter. They’re going to receive everyone’s best shot and have to respond.
Facing the Blazers without Kobe in Portland was a huge hurdle cleared, but what it did was prepare the team to play without their leader if necessary, allow Ron, Pau, and Lamar to lead the team. It forced the team to come together, get everyone involved, improved the confidence of the team, and force the players to run the offense to find solid high percentage shots and not look to Kobe to save them at the end of the game.
The Lakers lost to the Spurs 105-85 on January 12th, 2009. Andrew Bynum had a 23 point, eight rebound performance, although Kobe didn’t play in the fourth quarter due to back spasms. Both Andrew and Kobe are nursing injuries and in my opinion shouldn’t play in tonight’s game.
I realize that having both sit out is a lot of production to have to do without, but after seeing how more playing time agreed with the team in Portland, I think it is time to keep both starters out to continue to heal. Denver is still the second best team in the West, they won’t catch the Lakers although with more time to heal when both return each will be fresher as well as closer to 100%.
The task at hand will be slowing down the Spurs big three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli. Lakers needs to be very active defensively, 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.
Roger Mason and George Mason all do a good job of spotting up behind the arc and knocking down open shots. The main difference is a resurgent Tim Duncan and his production in the painted area. The Lakers need to play solid defense without fouling, control the tempo, be physical, and out-rebound this team.
The Lakers need to come out of the locker room aggressive and attack the basket. The Lakers need to play solid defense without fouling, defend out to the three point line, be physical and out-rebound this team. They can win this game by running their offense, taking care of the ball, and knocking down open shots and executing down the stretch.
Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST
- Los Angeles: TNT
- San Antonio: TNT
- Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- San Antonio: WOAI-AM 1200 (Bill Schoening)
- Andrew Bynum (Hip)
- Kobe Bryant ( Avulsion fracture of his right index finger, Sprained Left Ankle)
- PG Tony Parker (Sprained Ankle)
- SG Michael Finley (Ankle)