Records: Lakers 24-6 (1st in West) Warriors 9-21 (14th in West)
Offensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 107.3 (14th in league), Warriors 105.2 (19th in league)
Defensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 100 (3rd in league) Warriors 110 (26th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Warriors: Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry, Anthony Morrow, Corey Maggette, Anthony Randolph
That picture of Pau scares me: But if you like it — or like to give yourself nightmares — you can own it. It is one of the many treasures Zach from Celtics Hub found available at the NBA Store, in Manhattan including a picture of Steve Nash, Serial Killer, right out of Dexter.
The Lakers Coming in: It’s a slump. Mini slump right now, but a slump. My first suggestion: Relax. This is not something to panic over. You had to know there would be one, that 72 was a silly dream that made a good media story line and nothing else. Titles are not lost in December games, what matters is that the Lakers figure out things — that they can’t take nights off on defense, that they have to run the triangle to get an offensive flow, to stop doing too much and start trusting teammates to make plays.
Last night, the Lakers failed on many of those counts. Bynum had a great first quarter then the team went away from him as the game wore on (and he was less active). Teams are (wisely) trying to use centers like Amare to pull Bynum away from the basket, but the other bigs are not rotating well and defending the rim. More Kobe is not the long term answer. Phil Jackson is not going to yell at this team, he is going to let them figure it out for themselves. Which means it may take a couple more games, but the lessons are more likely to stick.
Also, no Artest again tonight.
The Warriors Coming in: For a team that is in the bottom five in the league, you look at the Warriors roster and you see talent. Good talent. Talent you can win some games with.
Monta Ellis can flat-out score. On the dribble, with the jumper, half court or getting out and running, this guy can play. Then he is paired with Corry Maggette, someone who can also shoot the jumper but is more likel to take you off the dribble and draw the foul. He is in the Kobe/Wade class when it comes to drawing fouls. Anthony Randolph is capable of exploding at any point for a huge night. Add in the rookie Curry who can shoot the rock (40% from three this year) and Anthony Morrow and you have a lineup of guys who can score.
If the players are not living up to their talent, you have to start looking up the ladder.
Keys to game: This is a test of the Lakers discipline. More than the Suns, the Warriors pull you into playing their style, and you can’t do it. It is a Siren Call and you have to plug your ears, lash yourself to the mast and not get sucked in. You will see open jump shots 6 seconds into the shot clock, but you have to resist the urge to take them because you will get a better look later. The Celtics did not do this last night, they got sucked into the Warriors game, and the result was a rushed 25 turnovers and a loss. The same fate awaits the Lakers if they rush.
The Warriors create more turnovers than any other team in the league, it fuels their fast break offense. Rule number one against them is to control the ball, do not give it and the easy buckets away.
That is all part of controlling the tempo, the other way to do that is pound the ball inside. All game long, not just the first quarter then start running and gunning. It’s a 48 minute test of discipline. Ignore the 20-foot jumper they are daring you to take and get the ball near the rim.
Defensively, take away the easy baskets for Ellis and Maggette, make them give it up now and again and force others to create shots. Or force Maggette to create and pass. This will not work long term for the Warriors, the Lakers need to be focused and stick with the plan.
The Warriors are a terrible rebounding team. The Lakers should dominate the boards at both end, creating opportunities for put backs and taking away the second chance points.
Where you can watch: 7:30 start back at Staples, with Fox Sports and 710 ESPN radio, your usual hosts.