Records: Lakers 30-9 (1st in West) Clippers 17-20 (12th in West)
Offensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 108 (11th in league), Clippers 104.8 (23rd in league)
Defensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 101.5 (2nd in league) Clippers 107.1 (18th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Clippers: Baron Davis, Eric Gordon, Rasual Butler, Marcus Camby, DeAndre Jordan
Gasol Returns: For the first time in a long time, the Lakers will have everyone ready to go tonight. (Notice I didn’t say healthy, what with Artest’s foot and Kobe’s finger and Sasha’s brain.)
The question is this: Do the Lakers build on a good team performance in Dallas, or do they relax because Kobe and Pau are back. The Lakers got one of their best games of the season from Odom and Artest — who were aggressive from minute one — and Andrew Bynum, who has been a more focused rebounder and picking his spots better on offense. He has been passing out of the double team better. Does Bynum lose focus with Gasol in the lineup, or is he maturing?
The Clippers Coming In: Since the news came down that Blake Griffin was not going to return this season, the Clippers have lost two in a row. (That is a terrible break, by the way, this is a very good player and a good young man. You hate to see it happen, but with his work ethic I believe he will bounce back next season and remind everyone why he was the number one pick.) Tough stretch as they get the Lakers tonight and the Cavaliers tomorrow.
Baron Davis has been as good as any guard in basketball the last two weeks. His shooting has been good (not great) but he is using his quickness to really set up teammates, and the results is him averaging 18 points and almost 10 assists (9.9) per game over he last 10. He killed the Lakers coming off a high-elbow screen from a big last game, the Lakers are going to need to stop that tonight.
Reading up on the Clippers: Two great Clippers blogs out there: Kevin at Clipperblog (and his team of guys) just continue to amaze, while Steve and the guys at Clips Nation continue to put up great post after great post.
Keys to game: No Kaman tonight, but that means the far more athletic DeAndre Jordan will be on Bynum and it will be interesting to see how he deals with it. The Clippers, with Camby at the four, are one of the few teams who can match up decently lengthwise with the Lakers up front. However, the Lakers are far more skilled and should attack.
The Clippers killed the Lakers last game with a double high post (big at each elbow) where Davis could choose his side for the pick-and-roll. The Lakers bigs need to step out and defend the penetration but keep an eye on their man (Camby can both pop off the pick and take the midrange shot, while Jordan’s athleticism makes him a tough roll to cover). The Lakers almost never helped the helper in that game, they need to tonight.
The other thing the Clippers did great last game was run on the Lakers, who almost never got back in transition defense. The Lakers need to rebound, and they need to run back on defense and stop the easy transition points. Making some shots would help that, too.
Where you can watch: 7:30 p.m. start on Fox Sports here in Los Angeles and ESPN 710 radio.