Archives For Game Preview

While I was looking forward to a couple of former Dukies doing battle tonight, Brandon Ingram being ruled out for the rest of summer league means that we won’t get to see him match up with Jayson Tatum — another smooth scoring SF who went number 3 overall in last month’s draft.

Instead, then, we’ll get to see how Tatum and last year’s #3 overall pick, Jaylen Brown, go up against Lonzo Ball. Ball will look to bounce back from a bad shooting night on Friday where he want 2-15 from the field for 5 points. Ball’s shooting distracted from some of the other good things he did offensively, where he ran the offense well, showed very good floor awareness, and mostly made good shot/pass decisions.

It will be a learning process for Ball, a 19 year old who has a unique approach to playing PG in comparison to what is widely viewed as the standard for lead guards in today’s NBA. How Ball adjusts to those norms and how he beats them back with his own game is one of the more intriguing storylines of every contest he appears in. It’s certainly something I’ll be watching for over the course of the summer as he gets more comfortable with the pace of NBA basketball.

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I’m going to keep this short and sweet. Tonight is the Lakers’ final game of the season. And while there is a lot to discuss about how this season went compared to expectations and what we wanted, there will be plenty of time for all of that. The postmortem on this season will take some time write and to digest, and this is neither the time nor the format.

What I will say is, that whatever this season was for you and whether you enjoyed it or not, it’s now basically over. There will be no more Lakers games to cheer for or scream at, to be happy about or disappointed in. The playoffs will start soon and that offers it’s own level of excitement and intrigue for basketball fans, but having the Lakers missing from the 2nd season for the 4th straight year (even though that was to be expected before the season), is just another reminder of the growth and improvement still needed. Again, though, this is another topic for another day.

The Lakers are looking to close their season on a winning note, though. Winners of 5 straight, the team is playing with and for each other for longer stretches. They’re making winning plays down the stretch on both ends of the floor. And while it’s easy to point to the flukiness of this part of the year or the specific motives of the opponents in each contest, I like that the Lakers are not only playing well enough to win, but doing those extra things needed to close out games. Whether this impacts them in May’s lottery remains to be seen, but I’m going to enjoy this stretch anyway.

Lastly, thanks to all of you who visit the site every day and read what we do here. This site is nearly 13 years old and I’ve been running it since the team’s run to the championship in 2010 (while being a contributor for years before that). This site means something to me and being able to do this and have folks join me every day, be it by reading our analysis or jumping into the comments section, is special. So, again, thank you for being a part of that.

Now, enjoy tonight’s game as best you can. And since the team is locked into “3rd”, why not cheer them on to end the season with six straight W’s.

Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on Spectrum Sportsnet.

Game 81. The team’s final home game of the season. Winners of 4 straight, playing a Pelicans team that will sit DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis. They will be without D’Angelo Russell on their own end, who is in Louisville with family to mourn the death of his grandmother and tend to family issues two days after hitting a game winning 3 pointer on the day he found out of her passing.

If, like me, you thought the end of the Lakers’ season was just going to be a waltz towards the lottery….man. Not so much.

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For the 3rd time in a little over two weeks the Lakers play the Timberwolves. The first of those three, the Lakers won in overtime in Los Angeles. In the 2nd, the team lost on the road by 15 after having to venture east for a 1-game road trip. Who wins the rubber match tonight? I know you’re super intrigued!

Or maybe you’re not. But with the Lakers pretty much locked into the 3rd worst record in the league, you might as well root for these guys to keep up their winning ways! (I’m only partially kidding. The tank wars have had fans up in arms recently with the W over the Kings on the same night the Suns actually won a game over the Thunder nearly causing riots. I’m of a different mindset, but to each their own.)

Anyways, the Lakers have actually won 3 in a row and have gone .500 over their last 8 games. A stretch that started with the aforementioned win over the Wolves. If the Lakers were to actually win tonight to get to 4 in a row, it would be their longest streak of the season, besting their (lone) 3-game streak to get them to 4-3 for the year.

I’d make a joke here, but in all honesty I’m happy to see this young group find ways to play well enough to win and then actually make plays to get them home. I know these things don’t exist in a vacuum, but in a vacuum, guys like Russell and Randle and Ingram getting this type of experience where they are the main reasons for the team winning. I get some people don’t see it this way, but I believe them learning what it takes to get wins actually matters and is a step beyond simply playing well.

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For those keeping track — and, I know, all of you are keeping track — the Lakers are now 1.5 games “behind” the Suns for the 2nd worst record. Having two fewer losses and one more win than the Suns, it’s very likely the Lakers will get locked into the 3rd. After all, the Suns only play 3 more games (Thunder, Mavs, Kings) while the Lakers play 4 (Kings, Wolves, Pelicans, Warriors). If the Suns lose out, it’s over. And I think they lose out.

So, that’s that. I covered some of this when talking about the Lakers’ recent wins, but I also took to twitter with a couple of additional points about the lottery.

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I wish I had something good to say about the Lakers’ game in San Antonio tonight. Really, I do. It’s just not the case, though. In fact, the only thing which even got me even slightly animated was the scheduling of this game at all:

Look, I get scheduling is hard. There are too many variables at play for everyone to be happy all the time. Arenas aren’t just used for basketball games, they’re used for NHL (whose season overlaps with the NBA’s), concerts, rodeos, circuses, awards shows, etc, etc.

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The Lakers played an interesting game against the Clippers on Saturday by faltering terribly early in giving up a 17-0 run to start the game, only to come back to lead briefly 32-31 and then only trail by 5 at the half. The 2nd half got away from them, but good performances from Brandon Ingram, David Nwaba, and Thomas Robinson offered some bright spots in an otherwise predictable game — at least from a results standpoint.

The Lakers now only have 6 games left in the season and with some winnable games left on the schedule, I’m sure there’s a growing group of fans who wouldn’t mind seeing the team continue to drop games to ensure the team stays “ahead” of the Suns in the race for the 2nd worst record in order to maximize their lottery chances. I’m still of the mind that the Lakers still need some good performances from their young players, for no other reason than to continue to add data to their off-season regiments on what works, what doesn’t, and how to best focus their individual training programs.

In today’s game against the Grizzlies, then, I’d like to see the team bounce back (at least somewhat *winks*) and find a better flow than they did against the Clips. Memphis has won two straight games after dropping four straight and now sit 7th in the West playoff race. If they stay in that spot, they’d face the Spurs, a matchup I’m not sure any Grizz fan really wants. If they were able to slide up to the 6th seed, a 1st round matchup against the Rockets would also be a major test and very likely end in a defeat, but that match up is a least somewhat more favorable with a more straight forward and executable game plan from night to night.

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It’s hard to believe there are only seven games left in the Lakers’ season, but here we are. Sitting at 21-54, the Lakers possess the 2nd worst record in the league (a half game “lead” over the Suns), which offers both a level in disappointment from a results standpoint and a hope the team will be able to retain its top-3 protected lottery pick come May.

I’d be lying if I said this all sits well with me. Before the season started I was of the mindset that this season would be the one where the Lakers finally stepped out of the shadows of “the tank”; a season where growth in the teams young players resulted in the types of on-court results which pushed the team’s (very likely) lottery pick out of reach. Of course, that hasn’t happened. There’s been growth with the players — if you cannot see that, it’s really your problem — but the wins have not followed.

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