Archives For Game Preview

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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So, for the last three days I’ve been out of commission with a stomach bug. I’ve literally been bedridden. I haven’t eaten a thing and my brain is barely functioning enough to type complete sentences. I am on the mend, though, so here I am, doing the work of the people by previewing the next Lakers’ game.

Wait. The Lakers play the Warriors? Maybe I should have stayed sick another day.

The basketball gods have a way of putting things back into perspective. After winning three games in a row — the first time the Lakers have done that in nearly a full calendar year — the schedule makers send the best team in the league to Staples Center. Nothing humbles you like a trip from the Warriors.

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If there were ever a team to make the Lakers’ current situation seem enviable, it would be tonight’s opponent in the Phoenix Suns. In the past two weeks alone head coach Jeff Hornacek has been rumored to be in danger of losing his job, he then saw two of his top assistants fired, his starting point guard and best player, Eric Bledsoe, suffer a season-ending knee injury, and trade rumors begin to resurface around a disgruntled Markieff Morris.

And now, a team who spent much of last season fighting for the Western Conference’s eighth seed, sits at a paltry 12-24, a spot where fighting for draft position would seem a much more reasonable goal.

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First of all, happy new year to all of you. I’ve said this before, but those of you who come to this site for Lakers’ information and analysis, contribute in the comments, and generally support our efforts are what make me running this site rewarding. For your support — be it continued or new — I thank you all.

As for today’s game, the Lakers are back in Los Angeles after a three game road trip which saw them go 1-2. Losses to the Grizzlies and Hornets were almost all but forgotten, however, after that win against the Celtics in the trip’s final game. That win has the potential to spark a little run of wins, too, as the Lakers enter a (somewhat) friendly part of their schedule. After playing the 76ers today, they play the free-falling Suns (who just lost Eric Bledsoe for the season), and have 6 of their next 7 games at home.

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Any time the Lakers play the Celtics, it is a big deal. The teams can be awful — and in the last 20 years, there have been plenty of match ups where one or both were not of good quality — and the game will still matter to fans and, more importantly, the players.

This, from head trainer Gary Vitti sums up the sentiment well:

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My apologies, but this game preview won’t be a game preview at all. Logistically, the Lakers face the Hornets on Monday, the second night of a back to back after playing in Memphis on Sunday night. But the game ahead, really, is just the scheduled event. It makes little sense to me to write about that game when this team has little chance to win that game.

In reality, this team has little chance of winning any game they play. That sounds harsh, I know. But, in reality, this is where we are with the Lakers.

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I’ve written it before, but I’ve not been the biggest fan of the Lakers playing on Christmas. This is mostly for selfish reasons — I’d much prefer to just relax with family and not have to be the guy who shuns everyone while totally investing in another Lakers’ game. I do that 81 other times a year, one day off — on Christmas no less — isn’t too much to ask for.

This year, though, I don’t have that same feeling. And, again, it’s for selfish reasons. This will be Kobe Bryant’s final game on Christmas and I want to see him perform. If his recent level of play holds up, it should be a good final game too. But even if it doesn’t, I still want to watch him do his thing.

Kobe’s the NBA’s all-time leading scorer on Christmas day with 383 points on his resumé. His filled highlight reels with some amazing moments that are engrained in my memory. You know, ones like these:

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My apologies for the lack of a preview today. Real life intervened and that’s that. In any event the Lakers face the Thunder tonight, looking to play less “scared” and/or “in awe” than a few days ago when they got drubbed by 40.

The good news is that everyone is healthy and ready to go. Hopefully Kobe’s presence can help stabilize the lineup and he can continue his good play of late. Enjoy the game folks.