“I think we’re the front-runner. If we had a healthy roster, I’d be very much more comfortable saying that. But at this point, given our schedule, I think we have a real good opportunity.”
Records: Lakers 48-21 (1 seed), Warriors 42-26 (8 seed West) (4 seed East)
Offense Ratings: Lakers-109.7 (3rd), Warriors-109.4 (4th)
Defense Ratings: Lakers- 102.3 (5th) Warriors- 106.1 (22nd)
Projected Starting Lineups-
Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Vlad Rad, Lamar Odom, Ronny Turiaf
Warriors: Baron Davis, Monta Ellis, Al Harrington, M.Pietrus, Stephen Jackson
Pietrus and Croshere are both listed as questionable.
Why We Should all be happy (Pacers v. Bulls last-night): When I looked at the box score/recap this morning I saw that another Bulls player, Andres Nocioni, got benched for screaming at his coach (add him to the list of Ty Thomas, Joakim Noah, Chris Duhon and the departed Big Ben). I saw that Jermaine Oâ€™neal missed his 30th consecutive game. It all made me think, wow, Kobe has to got to be happy not to be on the Bulls, and the Lakers have got to be happy not to have traded Andrew for Jermaine Oâ€™neal.
GS coming in: The Warriors are coming off a tough loss to the Rockets. Monta Ellis is having a great 3rd season (if they re-did the 2005 draft he would be drafted 4th after Paul, Williams and Bynum) and averaged a ridiculous 26 pts a game in February. Rookie Brendan Wright has been coming on as of late, and if he could ever get consistent minutes, he could become a key contributor. Baron Davis is the straw that stirs the drink in Oakland, but Steven Jackson is the ice. His defense keeps this team in games and inspires his mates to do the same.Watching Jackson this year, I think he is one of the best defenders in the NBA. He can guard anyone from Dirk to Nash, and he will do his best to harass Kobe tonight. Look for Kobe to try to get him in foul trouble.
Last Time These Two Met: Baron Davis was blowing three-fingered kisses, while Kobe sat on the bench and watched. Golden State beat the Lakers 108-106 at home on Dec. 14 to snap a nine-game overall losing streak to Los Angeles.
Streaking is Fun: The Warriors have had some trouble winning at Staples. The Warriors have won just two of the last 16 meetings between the teams. They finally broke a 15 game losing streak with a win over the Clippers on Friday. The Warriors have lost 9 straight to the Lakers at Staples. But the Warriors have also been excellent at staying away from losing streaks. Sans the six game jag to start the season without Steven Jackson, the Warriors have yet to lose in consecutive contests.
Possible First Round Opponent: This is the first of a back to back home and home set and also a potential first round playoff match-up. Where the Lakers may really have their hands full is tomorrow in Oakland. The Warriors feed off the energy of their home crowd more than any team in the league.
Keys to the Game: Phil Jackson v. Nellie is always entertaining, neither like to give in to the other oneâ€™s moves. Phil wants to control tempo and pound the ball inside, Nellie wants the game to go up and down and drain threes. The key for the Lakers is not to get tempted into taking quick jump shots. If the Lakers are patient they can get any shot they want, this should be a game where Lamar and Kobe and whoever else, initiate their offense inside.
Where you can Watch: FSN West and League Pass (6:30 PST)
-Kwame a. with Gatinho