Archives For Game Preview

The Lakers face the Clippers (again) on Wednesday, a night after getting crushed by them to the point the entire 4th quarter of the game was garbage time. While the Lakers have had a few successful games against their Staples Center co-tenants in the last few seasons, most games have mirrored Tuesday’s onslaught. The Clippers get up to play the Lakers and when you have a difference in quality between teams that’s been present the last few years, it’s not hard to predict the results.

After the game, Byron Scott offered similar critiques to ones he has leveled for most of the season — and especially recently. He lamented the lack of his young players’ intensity in comparison to Kobe and Metta World Peace, mentioned when you play “soft” and are not the aggressor games like this happen, and said they will need to learn to play with the appropriate level of intensity every night if they are going to “survive in this league”.

Another thing Scott mentioned was that he has run out of tactics and approaches to jumpstart his team. This was an interesting admission, since it not only implicates his players as (seemingly) non-responsive to his attempts to get them to play better, but also himself since he’s essentially admitting he’s no longer reaching his team (or at least a part of them). Whether he meant it that way or not, it’s also how that statement can be interpreted.

There could be a variety of reasons for this, but it’s a worthwhile discussion that is worrisome on multiple fronts.

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The Lakers play the Clippers on back to back nights a “home and home” where the only difference is the color of the uniforms, what face appears on your season ticket, and whether there are photos of your players in the rafters or not.

Oh, and there’s a difference in quality of team, too. The Clippers are pretty much locked into the 4th seed in the playoffs and a match up with the Warriors in the 2nd round. The Clippers just got Blake Griffin back from his torn quad/broken hand/suspension from punching the team’s equipment man in the face. Griffin looked rusty, but that’s to be expected.

If they are to make a deep run, they’ll need him at his best, though they will also need to find ways to integrate him back into what they did while he was away. Anchoring the 2nd unit as a point-PF who has the ball all the time might be the best way to do that, but that’s a conversation for another day.

The Lakers, meanwhile, are looking to ramp up their young players’ minutes over their final six games. This means changes to the rotation and, ultimately, Brandon Bass and Lou Williams being moved to the bench. Byron Scott gave the veterans a heads up that they should be ready should circumstances call for him to extend deep into the rotation, but otherwise they are going to sit.

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It’s been a strange week for the Lakers. Off court drama + a 48 point loss in Utah + an overtime win vs. the Heat = fans’ heads spinning. But nothing grounds the Lakers or their fans like a game vs. the Celtics. It seems almost any other storyline takes a backseat to a game against Boston and a chance to beat the organization’s most bitter rival.

Kobe’s farewell tour adds an additional layer to this. Against the Heat, Kobe played 9 minutes and was held out of the entire 2nd half after telling Byron Scott he “couldn’t move” on the court. But with multiple days off and the lure of one last game against the hated C’s, there is little doubt Kobe will play in this game. There is no playoff push to make or any seeding implications for the Lakers, but this game means something. It always will.

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Let me get this out of the way up top, there is a pretty juicy story circulating involving the Lakers, D’Angelo Russell, and Nick Young. If you haven’t read about it yet, you will soon. It is everywhere and will dominate social and traditional media for at least today. Very likely it will last much longer. The story has legs and lots of folks have opinions on what happened, what’s going on now, and what should be next.

That said, I’m not going to discuss the issue here, at my site, beyond the paragraph above. When this site was founded nearly 12 years ago, there were other off-court and drama-rich stories swirling around high profile players. This site was founded as a place to continue to discuss the game and the on-court happenings of the Lakers. It’s one of the principles of FB&G and I’m not going to depart from that now. Not because of the increased presence and importance of social media; not because these types of stories get larger portions of the news cycle; not because there is great fan interest.

If that costs me some readers or eyeballs on this blog, I will live with that. Odds are, if you have followed me (or Kurt before me) you already knew this. But if you’re newer to this site than others, I want to reiterate my stance on this. There are other places who will cater to your desires for updates and coverage. I implore you to seek them out if you’d like more on that subject or if you would like to discuss it with other Lakers’ fans. I will still be here when you come back, talking about the on-court happenings of the really bad 15-59 Lakers.

With that out of the way…

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Only 9 games left. Nine. The struggle is real. Well, for me it is.

Not just with the losing, either. The Lakers have 15 wins and are unlikely to reach last season’s total of 21. Following a team this bad, for two consecutive seasons, is uncharted territory for Lakers’ fans.

And not just because of Kobe’s pending retirement. Coming to grips with the finality of Kobe’s career isn’t something I’ve been able to truly prepare for. Yes, we’ve known it’s coming for months — even before his announcement, to be honest — but that doesn’t make it any easier.

I don’t write this to ask for pity or sympathy. Rather to simply explain that…well, this is all sort of new and I don’t like it. The losing is one thing. To have it be coupled with Kobe’s final season is something else entirely.

Balancing the emotions of watching the team lose, watching Kobe be unable to do anything about it — and, really, actively contribute to it on some nights — while still having this great sense of appreciation for his career and all he’s done for the franchise is just so strange. All at one time there is this frustration of the current situation, a sense of happiness of seeing him out on the floor playing these final games, and the nostalgia and feelings of reflection which come from looking back on what has been an amazing career.

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After losing to the Nuggets on Friday, the Lakers are back in action today against the Wizards. Friday saw Kobe score 28 on decent efficiency, D’Angelo Russell go down with a sprained ankle (he is doubtful for today), and Julius Randle notch his 1st career triple double. Still, though, it was a loss. The Lakers are now 15-57 on the season, looking less and less likely to even catch last year’s franchise worst total of 21 wins.

The hope is that all this losing translates to the keeping of the team’s top-3 protected draft pick, but we know that’s far from certain. And while it is on fresh on the mind now (especially with March Madness in full swing), it’s also more of a conversation for May when we will know for sure. Fretting today, while a fun barstool discussion, it arguing hypotheticals more than anything else.

These last 10 games, then, are really about the remaining storylines of this year. Which really means it’s about Kobe and the final 10 games of his career. Over these last 10 games, I will post a random highlight clip from the opponent. With today’s game being against Washington, I figured the best clip to show would be when Kobe faced off against Michael Jordan for the last time in Los Angeles when his Airness was a Wizard.

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It is sort of hard to believe, but the final countdown really is upon us. Tonight is game 72 of the season, meaning after the Lakers face the Nuggets there are only 10 games left this year. So we really are nearing the finish line of Kobe Byrant’s career. This will be a topic we discuss more in the final two and half weeks until the final game against the Jazz on April 13th, but the finality of it all is really starting to hit me.

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The Lakers got a rare win against a banged up Grizzlies team playing on the second night of a back to back last night and will try to carry forward some of that momentum against the Suns tonight. This is the same Suns team who handled the Lakers just last week, so even though they, like the Lakers, are a wreck of a team, don’t get any ideas about this game being any sort of a sure thing.

That said, the Suns are down a key cog.

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