Preview & Chat: The Los Angeles Clippers

Kurt —  January 21, 2009

Al Thorton of the Los Angeles Clippers

Records: Lakers 32-8 (1st in West) Clippers 9-31 (14th in the West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 113.6 (1st in league) Clippers 100.2 (30th in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 104.7 (6th in league) Clippers 107.8 (17th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Vladimir Radmanovic, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Clippers Eric Gordon, Mardy Collins, Al Thornton, Brian Skinner, DeAndre Jordan

The Lakers coming in In case you missed the news, Jordan Farmar has been progressing well and could be back before the All Star break. With his work ethic, no shock there.

Also, Kobe’s pain tolerance is higher than yours. And Andrew Bynum doesn’t like to be dunked on.

On a personal note, thanks to Gatinho, Reed, Kwame a., and Darius for all the help while I took a few days off to rest and recuperate. It’s just crazy the quality of the posts they put up.

I put a lot of my stuff in the Keys to the Game today, so head on down there for more about the Lakers.

Thoughts and Links I am hoping the Lakers jump out to a big early lead tonight so I can comfortably flip away and watch the season opener of Lost.

Can the Magic win it all? Anthony Macri, he of the IMG Basketball Academy, tackles that topic in a very well done recent article.

Andrew Bynum talks about getting drafted, and why he thinks people should be able to come straight out of the NBA from high school.

I love this blog and have wanted to link to it for a while — the best places to eat near stadiums around the nation (not just hoops). This could come in handy.

And I flat out just don’t link to the Brothers Kamenetzky often enough. I read them several times a day, I love their stuff and the style. One of my resolutions is to start linking more to the blogs I enjoy, and theirs is at the top of the list.

The Clippers Coming In: Think about the Clippers this way: How good would the Lakers be if they had to sit Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum due to injuries?

Tonight the Clips will be without Baron Davis, Zach Randolph, Marcus Camby and Chris Kaman. This was not a deep team, but no NBA team would be good without their four best. Those injuries explain why the team has dropped 13 out of 14.

There are some guys to watch, for example I’ve seen flashes out of Eric Gordon, but he has a way to go. Kevin Arnovitz (he of Clipperblog and TrueHoop network) has some thoughts on others and what they need to do tonight:

# Al Thornton: Thaddeus Young and Al Thornton both shoot about 36% on two-point jump shots. Here’s the difference: 54% of Thornton’s shots are of the two-point jumper variety, but Young makes the low-percentage shot only 35% of his overall selection. Instead, Young opts for more attempts inside, where both he and Thornton shoot greater than 60%. Thornton must resist the temptation to settle for stuff outside. He’ll start the game against Vladimir Radmanovic, a defender he should be able to take off the dribble. Al will still have to confront the Lakers’ stellar help defense, but penetration gives him a fighting chance. Firing jumpers over the Lakers’ lanky defenders doesn’t.

# DeAndre Jordan: The Clippers’ rookie center did an effective job staying out of foul trouble on Monday while defending the post adequately against Al Jefferson. The Lakers’ Andrew Bynum is a more athletic cover. In addition, the Lakers’ bigs move around the halfcourt a lot more than Minnesota’s, which means Jordan’s most challenging task won’t necessarily be bodying up, but staying alert.

Keys To The Game: This is a classic trap game — just had four tough ones and now you can relax, right? This is still the NBA, these are still professional players. Take a night off mentally and you will have a game on your hands. Plus, for some reason the Lakers have had a lot of letdowns in the first game of back-to-backs.

Yes, Mardy Collins will be the guy covering Kobe Bryant tonight, and that is a serious mismatch. But that is not where the Lakers need to go first.

Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum should have big nights — Al Jefferson destroyed the Clippers a couple nights back. It is true every night but especially tonight — establish the big men first and the triangle offense will flow much better. There should be shots a plenty tonight.

Teams actually don’t shoot that well against the Clippers (they are seventh in eFG% against) but they are not good at defensive rebounding and they do not create turnovers. Simply put, with the Lakers length they should get some easy putbacks and scores tonight. If they want it. Bynum, I’m looking at you.

Oh, and don’t turn the ball over.

Al Thornton and Eric Gordon are going to have to take on the scoring load for the Clippers, and the Lakers need to be smart in playing their penetration. The Laker bigs can afford to stay home against these Clippers, they should be good help, but the Lakers need to do what they did to LeBron and force these guys to beat them from he perimeter. As Kevin said, Thornton can be tempted into that.

Finally, don’t leave Steve Novak out at the three point line. The guy can do one thing — bury threes. He does it very well (41% career clip and 48% last year). That is the only thing he does very well. Force him to put the ball on the floor and he is neutralized.

Where you can watch: 7:30 start here in Los Angeles, the game is on KCAL 9 with the Lakers guys or Fox Sports with Ralph saying the Lakers were the first to 100. Lost is on ABC 7.