Records: Lakers 13-3, Pacers 707
Offensive ratings: Lakers 110.6, Pacers 100.2
Defensive ratings: Lakers 100.6, Pacers 96.6
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Pacers: Darren Collison, Mike Dunleavy, Danny Granger, Josh McRoberts, Roy Hibbert.
Injuries: Lakers: Andrew Bynum, Theo Ratliff
Pacers: Jeff Foster
The Lakers Coming in: As we’ve seen over the past couple weeks, when the Jazz get down by 19, they have you right where they want you. After easily their worst shooting night of the season, what better way to bounce back then against Indiana at home, considering the Pacers have never won at Staples Center. However, even after shooting 4-15 from three point range, the Lakers are still second best in 3pt % for the season at 42.4%. While the Lakers are still in the middle of the pack in defense efficiency (102.9), they are still league best in offensive efficiency (112.6). These numbers will probably balance out in the coming weeks when Andrew Bynum finally returns, but for now, the Lakers remain a team that wins using their offense.
The Pacers Coming in: The Pacers have been playing excellent ball coming in to today’s game, blowing out the other LA team, Cleveland, and the Nazgul, with two losses by a combined 8 points to OKC and Orlando. While Darren Collison hasn’t lit the world on fire, Roy Hibbert has emerged as a quality big man, averaging 15 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 blocks a game. And while Hibbert’s foot speed is “questionable” at best (check out this utterly humiliating video showing how badly he gets burned by Brad frickin Miller), he has helped put Indiana in the top 10 in defensive efficiency (100.3), with a big gulf between them and the 11th ranked Lakers (102.9).
Blogs: Jared Wade at Eight Points, Nine Seconds, puts out quality Pacers-centric work in addition to his contributions to Hardwood Paroxysm and his other blog, the aforementioned Both Teams Played Hard.
Keys to game: When the Pacers get hot, they destroy (just ask Miami). Even though the Lakers shoot a much better percentage from three (42.4% to the Pacers 37%), the Pacers actually have slightly more 3PM per game (9.0 compared to the Lakers 8.9); it just takes them 3.5 extra attempts per game to do it. And while most of the damage comes from Danny Granger (2.7 3PM per game), Mike Dunleavy (1.9), James Posey (1.8), and Brandon Rush (1.1) are all highly capable distance bombers. And speaking of Danny Granger, he’s the f’ing man on this team. 22 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and capable of going off for 30+ on a given night, Granger can catch fire in a hurry and bury opposing teams. And despite my best attempts, Reed adamantly refuses to trade Granger to me in our FB&G Fantasy league (c’mon, who wouldn’t take Wilson Chandler, Tim Duncan, and Aaron Brooks for Granger?).
However, the Pacers do have a weakness, and that is slippery hands. 24.9% of their possessions end with a turnover, with 15.4 total giveaway’s per game. Granger and Collison are the usual culprits (since they handle the ball so much), but it really doesn’t help when your big men, Hibbert and backup Jeff Foster, are averaging 4.6 turnovers a game combined. The Lakers like to get their hands on balls (wow that sounds dirty), so if the Pacers are to have any chance, they are going to need to limit the mishandles.
The Pacers are also a relatively poor offensive rebounding team, ranking 25th in offensive rebound rate (23.7), but are monsters on the defensive glass, ranking 3rd (77.1). As we all know, the Lakers have a tendency to get worked on the defensive boards (69.5 DRR, good for 4th last), so as long as someone gets a body on Hibbert (3.4 OR per game) , the Lakers shouldn’t get crushed on the glass.
As usual, if the Lakers play their game, they should win comfortably. But if the threes start bombing and the Lakers stop running their offense, this could be a slugfest.
Where you can watch: Fox West at 6:30 p.m.