We’ll start with the housekeeping since these items are relatively important:
- Kobe Bryant will not play tonight. In fact, he will not play in the Lakers’ preseason finale tomorrow either. He’s nursing a sore foot and will be reevaluated over the weekend, per Mike Trudell of Lakers.com.
- Dwight Howard is also out tonight. He’s experiencing some “general soreness” but nothing serious. Before he made his debut on Sunday, there was talk that the Lakers would not play him in one of the back to back games. It turns out, it’s tonight’s. Reports say he will play tomorrow.
- On the good news front, Jordan Hill should be making his return to the lineup this evening. After being out for a bit over two weeks with a herniated disk, Hill went through shoot-around this morning and is expected to dress for the game.
- On the Clippers side, Grant Hill, Lamar Odom, and Chauncey Billups are all expected to sit this game out. There’s even a report that Vinny Del Negro may rest other starters as well.
What does this mean for tonight? Basically that there’s little we’re going to learn about either of these teams in a big picture way.
The Lakers will again be missing multiple starters and that will again limit what we can discern from how they operate on both sides of the ball. Getting Hill back should start to inform us better of what the bench will look like when everyone is healthy, but as we’ve discussed the expectation is that any reserve lineups will prominently feature starting players. So, again, not having Kobe and Dwight throws off any advanced look at potential rotations.
This doesn’t mean there aren’t things to take note of while watching. With Hill back we should get to see him play as both a PF and a C. That should give us more insight into how the back line if the defense holds up with another defensive minded big in the rotation.
Hill’s presence should also mean we get to see a Hill/Pau pairing that lets the Spaniard get to the low block a bit more than he does when paired with Howard (or Sacre). On the possessions Pau has gotten to post up, he’s looked good — he’s flashed his jump hook, had some nice spins/drop steps, and has made very good reads — but he’s mostly been playing with a traditional C and that’s led to him working the pinch post a fair amount.
We should also get to see substantial minutes from both Jodie Meeks and Devin Ebanks on the wing. Meeks has looked more comfortable as the preseason has gone on and tonight, in playing for Kobe, he’ll get more burn. Ebanks should get some minutes at both wing spots and that should help inform us of his ability to play some SG in this offense.
Then, of course, we should also see plenty of Blake and Duhon and try to get a better idea as to who may be the back up PG. Not that I expect that answered tonight, but the more minutes both guys get, the more of an impression we can get.
Besides those things, however, there’s not much to glean from tonight.
For some fans in the L.A. area, this may be their first chance to see the Lakers play on their TV sets since it will be aired on Prime Ticket (who carries Clippers’ games). So, in that respect, I hope the game is enjoyable for all of you. Odds are, it won’t be as I would not doubt the team is 0-7 after tonight. Not that it matters. The games that do start next week. It’s those I can barely wait for.