Cook or Walton? A few more stats in the â€œwho to start?â€ debate. Looking at the current starting four (Smush, Kobe, Odom and Kwame) and seeing how they do with Cook or Walton, hereâ€™s what 82games.com has found:
With Cook, the Lakers five has beaten the opposing five 50% of the time, but are a +7.8 per 48 minutes. This Laker five shoots an impressive 55.3% and allows opponents to shoot 49.1%.
With Walton (who has played less than half the minutes of Cook with this group), the Laker five has bested their opponents just 30.4% of the time and are a -5.8 per 48 minutes. This Laker five shoots 50.2% but allows opponents to shoot exactly the same percentage.
What do I take from this? Not a ton, small sample sizes at play here, but it makes me think that choosing between Cook and Walton should be tied to match ups more than anything else.
Whoâ€™s Left? One reason others and I mistakenly bought into the â€œGolden State as the poor-manâ€™s Phoenix Sunsâ€ theory before the season was the backcourt of Baron Davis and Jason Richardson.
Tonight, neither of those two is expected to play. Davis is out for sure with an ankle injury and Richardson is questionable with a knee problem. Also, rookie Chris Taft will be out.
Injuries are part of the reason Golden State is 2-8 in their last 10 â€” if Richardson doesnâ€™t play the best guy on the court for Golden State will be Derek Fisher. I have a soft spot for Fish too, but if heâ€™s your best player â€” and heâ€™s shooting just 48.3% (eFG%) in the last 10 â€” then youâ€™re in trouble. And Mike Dunleavy canâ€™t bail you out.
Off Topic: Note to Joanne C. Gerstner of The Detroit News and her comments on the scoring title race â€” for Kobe to win another scoring title he would have had to have won his first. This will be number one.
Key to a Lakers win: This is a game the Lakers should win on defense â€” the Warriors are 21st in the league in offensive efficiency (101.6 points per 100 possessions, 3.3 points behind the 10th-in-the-league Lakers) and they are without their two best players. Well, I suppose Richardson may play but he wonâ€™t be at 100%. Whoever is on the floor, Golden State will try to pick up the pace (4th fastest team in the league) but they can be made inefficient on the break â€” get back and theyâ€™ll settle for a three (they attempt 22.6 a game, second only to the Suns, but Golden State hits just 34.3% of them, well behind the Suns nearly 40%).
This can also be a big game offensively for Odom, Kwame and other guys who should be able to post up â€” Golden State has struggled to stop fours and fives this season. Get the ball inside to start the triangle tonight â€” it slows them down and the Lakers can get good looks going inside out.