Slowing Kobe. All eyes will be on Bryant after his version of â€œThe Closerâ€ on TNT Thursday. And remember, the last time he faced the Clippers Kobe put up 20 in the first quarter. The Clippers in that game, and likely tonight, went with Quinton Ross on Kobe, the Lakers countered by posting Kobe up so he could use his size and strength. Tonight I expect Ross to get a lot of help in his job.
Little help here. Last meeting, Kobe shot 54.5% (eFG%), the rest of the team shot just 37.1%. Kobe is going to need some help tonight.
Kwame starts. In the wake of Kobeâ€™s explosion Iâ€™ve neglected to mention the change in the starting lineup, with Kwame in and Bynum out. It seems warranted to me, Kwame has been pretty consistent while Bynum has been up and down, and more down the last week or so. I expect Phil will go with the hot hand in crunch time each game.
Slowing the Clipper stars. In the last meeting both Elton Brand and Corey Maggette finished with 20 points, but combined they shot just 45.5%, not terribly efficient. With Chris Kaman out tonight Kwame and Bynum should be able to help more on Brand, hopefully slowing him some.
Out of their slump. You know how sometimes you see slumping teams start to execute better even as they lose another game or two at the end of a streak? The Clippers did that against Sacramento two games ago, at least according to Kevin at Clipperblog â€” Los Angeles ran its offense and got the shots it wanted, they just missed them. They missed 68 of them. In one game. Thatâ€™s pretty much the definition of an off shooting night.
But against Memphis the shots started to fall again and the Clips picked up an impressive win coming into the Laker game.
Things to look for. The Lakers had a lot of success in that first meeting with a high pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop, look to see more of it.
Sam Cassell had his way with Smush in the first meeting, although the Clippers went away from that match up late. The Lakers as a team are going to have to do a better job on him. Also, Shaun Livingston has had a couple good games in a row, if he continues he should get big minutes (and the Lakers might counter with Sasha).
The Lakers likely will see some zone defense. Get the ball inside, either by a pass or Kobe penetrating off the dribble, and the zone will break down.