Archives For Game Preview

Records: Lakers 9-34, Last in the West; Kings 17-23, 10th in the West
Offensive ratings: Lakers 96.9, 29th in NBA; Kings 103.0 11th in the NBA
Defensive ratings: Lakers 107.7, Last in the NBA; Kings 105.9, T-24th in the NBA
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Clarkson, Williams, Kobe, Randle, Hibbert
Kings: Rondo, Ben McLemore, Rudy Gay, Willie Cauley-Stein, Cousins

The Lakers Coming in: The Lakers have lost 3 in a row and 7 of their last 8. They are still banged up as Larry Nance Jr. will not play, but Julius Randle will simply slide up in the rotation and assume his old role as starter. Where the questions come in is whether Tarik Black will see any minutes as the back up C with Brandon Bass playing some PF or if Byron Scott will do what he did the last game by giving Ryan Kelly the backup PF minutes and having Bass stay as the C.

This is a game where it probably makes more sense to play Black, even if Byron seems less than enamored with the development of the 2nd year pro. The Kings are a team with legitimate size and can pound you on the glass if you don’t match up accordingly. Bass fought hard against Cousins the last time these teams played, but it would be nice to spare him from all that pounding by giving Black some run too. And not just against Cousins, but against Kosta Koufos as well.

Also, if you have not been paying attention, Anthony Brown has taken Nick Young’s spot in the rotation. This transition has been in place for a little over a week, but tonight will be an interesting test, especially since the Kings have two very different types of wing players that Brown will likely defend. On one hand, you have Rudy Gay who will try to post you up and work in isolation off the dribble. On the other hand is guys like Marco Belinelli and Omri Cassipi who do their best work running off picks and spotting up. Brown will need to be mindful of who he’s guarding and respond accordingly. I think he is up to the challenge, but we shall see.

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So the Lakers have the Rockets on Sunday night. Going into this match-up, the Lakers have lost six of their last seven while Houston had their five-game win streak snapped by the Eastern Conference champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers. On Saturday night, the Lakers were thrashed by the Utah Jazz right from the start. And that has been the problem for the Lakers against the Rockets so far this season. In their previous two match-ups, they lost by 29 and 20 after slow starts.

Funny enough, Kobe Bryant is averaging 23.5 points in those two games but we’re not sure if he’s going to play because of his Achilles problem. But one player who has been scoring well as of late is Lou Williams. He’s averaging 22.9 points per game in the month of January and the way he’s been drawing fouls has been, shall we say, James Harden-esque? Lou has been averaging 9.1 free throws per game this month.

If you’re hoping for a Lakers win, you hope that the guys in purple and gold catch the Rockets sleepwalking and that they keep a lead or stay within reach in the early going. But the Rockets seem to get up for the Lakers as evidenced by the two games they have played. In those two games, it was the frontcourt that has smashed the Lakers. Clint Capela and the ever-so-beloved Dwight Howard had double-doubles (not the In-N-Out kind) in both games and Donatas Montiejunas and Terrence Jones both had an impact in both contests off the bench. And I didn’t even mention James Harden, who will find a way to score 25 points whether it’s unlimited chucking or living in the foul line. The Lakers, just like most games, will have their hands full.

But really, we’re not going to be too disappointed if the Lakers lose. As it should be all along, it should be about developing the young guys (and about keeping that Top 3 lottery pick). We hope Julius Randle bounces back from the Utah game. We hope D’Angelo Russell continues to grow. We hope Tarik Black gets some more PT to see if he really is a quality back-up big man. We hope Jordan Clarkson can continue to be an excellent combo guard. Larry Nance is not going to play due to hurting his knee but, when he comes back, we hope that he can continue to expand his game aside from being a defensive stopper.

Just compete and try not to be embarrassed like the last two contests. And if the Lakers win, then it’s all gravy.

Where you can watch the Lakers play against your hero, Dwight Howard: 6:30 PM on Time Warner Cable Sports. Also listen at ESPN Radio Los Angeles 710AM.

For the 2nd time in 6 days the Lakers face the Jazz, this time in Utah. The last matchup was a low scoring affair plagued by some horrid Lakers’ shooting (29-89 from the field) and played at the Jazz’s pace. Further, that game saw both Kobe and D’Angelo Russell sit out, so the Lakers were also shorthanded with Anthony Brown and Marcelo Huertas filling in as best they could, but without a lot of results to show for it (save for some solid defense from Brown).

Tonight, the Lakers will be more healthy than they were last week, but will now be without Brandon Bass who is still nursing a sore foot. Tarik Black will hopefully step in for Bass as the backup C and will look to build on his solid performance against the Warriors on Thursday. Considering I’d like to see more of Black, I’m interested in seeing how he performs, though I’d prefer it weren’t because of Bass being injured.

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The Lakers play the Warriors tonight in Oakland. This is, normally, bad news. And while it still is — we will get to that in a moment — let’s start with the good news first so we can all have a nice feeling wash over us before feeling the crushing weight of reality bathe over us like getting the first 2 numbers of the Powerball last night only to see the rest of the numbers be wrong…

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After a pretty unpleasant — at least aesthetically — game against the Jazz on Sunday, the Lakers play the Pelicans at Staples Center Tuesday night. Though they have had a home heavy schedule of late, the Lakers bring with them a 4 game losing streak and have lost 8 of 11 overall. They have been playing better, but there are still holes too large to cover up with their current roster construction and schematic approach.

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After a hard fought — and closer than expected — game against the Thunder on Friday, the Lakers are back in action tonight against the Jazz at Staples. The team will be shorthanded, however, with multiple key players out of the lineup:

 

Kobe is a late scratch, but Bass was already doubtful and Russell was ruled out after he was unable to finish the game after trying to play against OKC with the roughed up ankle from the sprain he suffered against the Kings.

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Again? AGAIN? Look, I’m tired of the Lakers facing by the Thunder. This will be the 3rd time the Lakers have played OKC in the past 20 days. The two previous times the Lakers lost by 40 and 35 points. So, yeah. Instead of a game preview, I should include a map to the nearest underground shelter so fans can take cover.

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The Kobe farewell tour resumes tonight, in Sacramento, when the Lakers play the Kings. The game will be nationally televised (hello TNT), will be the last time Kobe plays in the state capital, and will be his return to action after missing the last three games with a sore shoulder.

All of this makes for an interesting backstory, but it’s the time off and the fact that it’s his shoulder on his shooting arm which offers the most pressing questions. What kind rhythm Kobe can find, how well his shot falls, and how all of that impacts his approach to the game are what’s most worth watching tonight. I’ve no clue what to expect, honestly. I could see him coming back rested and ready to play well just as I could see him come back rusty and somewhat out of sorts. Neither would surprise.

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