The (15-6) Lakers return to the Staples Center, but as the visitor tonight, to start their seven-game road trip against the (5-17) Clippers; their co-tenants.
Tonight’s game will be the first of four ‘Battle of Los Angeles’ or ‘hallway series’ games. Both teams come into this game following a win. The Clippers beat the Kings 98-91 and the Lakers beat the Wizards 115-108.
The normal adage would be that a win is a win and that everyone will take it. However, the competitive phase of the game should have ended in the third quarter.
Once again, the Lakers defense was sporadic, didn’t get back in transition, and squandered a double-digit lead.
The reserves have averaged 28.2 points in their last five outings; their consistency and production have to increase. The Lakers have allowed way too many NBA players from Los Angeles to put on a show in their return.
Gilbert Arenas and Nick Young combined for 53 points in their return to Los Angeles. Ultra-quick rookie point guard John Wall had a double-double (22 points and 14 assists).
The Lakers have to step their game up defensively. They have to stop this trend of surrendering big leads. The road is where a lot of teams bond and the same holds true for the Lakers on this road trip, but it all starts with their defensive intensity. The front line has to come out and play with a high level of energy, focus and execution to dominate the boars and the painted area.
For those who haven’t noticed Blake Griffin is a special player worthy of the first overall selection in the draft. He’s an explosive player who at times has made the NBA look like a six-foot and under league the way he is playing above the rim.
He dropped a highlight filled 44 points against the Knicks; looking as if he jumped off of a trampoline on a series of jaw dropping dunks. He put up a 31-point 13 rebound effort against Tim Duncan. Griffin is averaging 20 points and 10 boards without a jump shot and he is in the process of doing the impossible; providing the Clippers hope and making them relevant.
Griffin will be going up against one of the elite front lines in the NBA tonight.
The Lakers have to stop the dribble penetration of the guards, do a good job defending the screen and roll plays, rotate quickly out to open shooters and get back in transition. They will have to control the tempo of the game and receive solid production from the reserves. They need to continue to use excellent ball movement and excellent player movement to find and convert high percentage shots.
Lamar Odom has been aggressively attacking the rim and that needs to continue.
The Lakers need to jump on the Clippers early get a lead on them and put them away early.
The Clippers have the talent AND athletes to make this game competitive if allowed to hang around.
Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST
- Los Angeles: KCAL 9 (Joel Myers & Stu Lantz)
- Los Angeles: Prime Ticket (Ralph Lawler & Mike Smith)
- Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- Los Angeles: KFWB 980 (Ralph Lawler, Mike Smith & Brian Sieman)
- Andrew Bynum (Right Knee) Out
- Theo Ratliff ( Left Knee) Out
- Lamar Odom (Sore Right Foot) Probable
- Pau Gasol (Strained Left Hamstring) Is Day-to-Day
- PG Baron Davis (Sprained Hamstring) Listed as Day-to-Day
- C Chris Kaman ( Sprained Left Ankle) Listed as Day-to-Day
PF Brian Cook (Suspended by the NBA for a Flagrant Foul)