Two out of Three Ainâ€™t Bad: First off, I promise never, ever to quote Meat Loaf in a post again. But heading into three home games against Sacramento, Milwaukee and New Orleans, I think the Lakers need to go 2-1, with the game against New Orleans the must win. Yes, Iâ€™d like 3-0, but evidence suggests this team showing up focused for three straight games is a long shot. But two out of three ainâ€™t bad.
As for the standings heading into tonight, the Lakers and Kings are in a tie, with the Hornets one game back (damn it Clips, help a guy out) and the Jazz two back (same to you, Suns).
Better music and Lamar Odom: Odom, who made a great cameo in HBOâ€™s Entourage last year, continues his cameo run with a brief appearance in the latest Dilated Peoples video, â€œBack Again.â€ A nod to Henry at True Hoop for finding and posting this first.
Kobe gets the leading roles in his own commercials, but Odom is the Philip Seymour Hoffman of the Lakers, getting the great character roles.
(If you just had to Google Dilated Peoples to find out who they are, you are not hip. And welcome to that club.)
Rest in Peace, Ray Meyer: The legendary DePaul basketball coach, who passed away recently, also indirectly help shape the Laker reputation as one of the great NBA franchises of all time. It was Meyer that shaped George Mikanâ€™s game in college, the man who went on to be cornerstone of the franchiseâ€™s first titles.
Artest v. Kobe, round three: This is one of two great defense versus offense matchups in the next two days, the other being Afflalo on Morrison in the UCLA/Gonzaga game.
As for the matchup at hand, judgesâ€™ scorecards gave the first round to Kobe but the second round to Artest. While there will be no knockouts â€” this is where you insert your own melee in Detroit joke â€” this will be the third and deciding game this season between the teams.
But Artest has not really slowed Kobe â€” in the two games theyâ€™ve been matched up, Kobe has shot 54.4% (eFG%, an increase of 6.2% over his season average) and a true shooting percentage of 56.8% (up 1.8%). Kobe also has hit 8 of 15 three pointers in those games. What Artest does not do is foul Kobe â€” he has just 7 free throws in the two games. Combined.
The Kings coming in: As Kwame a. mentioned in the comments, the Kings are not only in the second game of a back-to-back, they played a fast paced game last night in a win over the Sonics. All the better to wear their legs out, we can hope. Artest was the big offensive force for the Kings: 34 points on 10 of 18, plus getting to the line 15 times. He was the inside (although he hit two three pointers) to go with Bibbyâ€™s outside and quickness, plus the 30 he dropped.
On the season, the Kings shoot 46.9% (eFG%) on no days rest, down a little from their 48.6% season average.
The Kings, as we know, have been getting great play all around lately. Kenny Thomas is shooting 53.8% and pulling down 9.4 boards a game in the last 10, Brad Miller is shooting 47.6% and pulling down 8.6 rebounds. Kevin Martin is shooting 55.3% in that time.
More on the Kings: Sactown Royalty is one of the best blogs out there, despite being up in some cow town.
Things I want to see tonight: Part of the Heat/Pistons game. My gut still tells me Detroit destroys them in a seven-game series, but I have seen little of these teams lately and Detroit has wobbled a little while the Heat have beat up the inferior with little in terms of a big test. Should be interesting.
Keyâ€™s to a Laker win: Kwame plays great man defense on the block, but when his man moves away from the basket â€” like the Cleveland game â€” he is slow to follow. He better not do that against Brad Miller. Smush is also going to have to stay in front of Bibby and not let him carve up the Laker D.
Kobe and Artest will be entertaining, but itâ€™s Odom who must make the Kings adjust to him, that will free up other guys to get good looks. He needs to drive the lane (as does Smush). This is a winnable game and would be a key bit of insurance in the drive to make the playoffs.