TLN Note: From now on, will have two pre-game writers, Jonny and Varsity Optimism. Both will switch off every game. Enjoy.
This is a red letter day in Laker history. No, it is not the commemoration of some heroic basket or some record-breaking shot.
Today is the twentieth anniversary of my birth. Two decades ago today, my Mother sat in St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Burbank, fresh from a 108-104 victory over the mustache and Jheri-Curl of Reggie Theus and the Sacramento Kings.
As my family clamored over me, little did they know that a mere twenty years later, the Lakers would be preparing for another Playoff run.
Tonight the Lakers (51-24) meet the Dallas Mavericks (47-28), as they look to take the season series for the 21st time in franchise history.
The Lakers and the Mavs last met on March 18 in Big D, where Kobe & Co. built and then squandered a 25-point lead, yet managed to escape the American Airlines Center with a 2-point victory in their second game without Center Pau Gasol.
But, Pau is back and as Newton’s Law sates: “To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”. Having said that, the Mavericks retained the services of Dirk Nowitzki on Wednesday after missing only four contests after it looked like his leg nearly fell off during their March 23 contest against San Antonio. (Sources tell me that on that fateful Sunday, a black cloud formed over the city of Dallas and a deranged Mark Cuban ritually sacrificed a Blogger in Deep Ellum…and ate his kidneys.) With the addition of Dirk, and their team slipping in Playoff position, look for the Mavericks to come out hungry for a win.
The Lakers, however, also find themselves in a position where a conquest is imperative. Down the stretch the Lakers must protect their home court, and with only 3 games against teams qualifying for the Playoffs, this game holds even more weight.
New York @ New Orleans: The Hurrrrrrrnets should make easy work of the Knicks, who just hired the corpse of Donnie Walsh as their new team President.
Minnesota @ Phoenix: Again, should be a cakewalk for the home team. The T-Wolves only have five road wins on the season. But hey, that didn’t stop the Grizz and the Cats from stealing rare road wins at Staples.
San Antonio @ Utah: This contest will probably rival the Lakers-Mavs for game of the night. The Lakers could really use the Jazz’ help as the league’s best home team to hold court and defeat los Estimulos.
National: ESPN/ESPN HD
Los Angeles: FSN WEST (Joel Myers & Stu Lantz)
Dallas: TXA21 (Mark Followill & Laura Green)
Los Angeles: AM570 KLAC (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
Dallas: ESPN Radio 103.3-FM (Chuck Cooperstein & Bob Ortegal)
- Out: A. Bynum (Knee), T. Ariza (Foot)
- Will Play: K. Bryant (Finger), D. Fisher (Foot)
- Out: J. Stackhouse (Groin)
- Will Play: D. Nowitzki (Ankle, Knee)
Pau vs. His Ankle: Will it continue to hold up to the stresses of a full speed NBA contest? Will it swell up to the size of Joe Torre’s head by the 10 minute mark of the First Quarter? WILL IT SPROUT TEETH AND SING THE NATIONAL ANTHEM IN SPANISH!?!?
Kobe vs. the Referees: Is tonight the dreaded night where Kobe earns his 16th technical foul and a one-game suspension? Rest assured, there will be plays in which Kobe draws contact and the Officials swallow their whistles, yet will Kobe keep an even keel when this transpires? Or will he eat Steve Javie’s face or make Violet Palmer unable to have children.
Live By the Three, Die By the Three: Over the last seven or so contests, the Lakers have developed a love affair with the three-point shot. Seriously, they have been hoisting them up faster than my friend Andy goes through a bottle of chocolate milk. With Pau back in action, the boys in Purple and Gold have an offensive presence in which they can run their offense from the inside out, which will lead to smarter, and more effective outside shots.
Varsity Challenge -
Game Related Query! (Prize – Kurt Rambis’ Mustache Clippings): The Mavericks have three ex-Laker First Round Draft picks on their roster. In what year and with what pick did the Lakers select them?
Off Topic Trivia! (Brought to you by my friend Kristin): What is the meaning of the four-leaf clover?