Records: Lakers 43-18 (2 seed); Clippers 20-39 (12 seed)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 113.5 (4th); Clippers 102.7 (28th)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.9 (6th); Clippers 108.3 (14th)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Clippers: Brevin Knight, Cutino Mobley, Corey Maggette, Josh Powell, Chris Kaman
Lakers Notes: In case you havenâ€™t seen it, not great news reports on the injury front. Trevor Ariza still has his boot on and apparently will not be back until into the playoffs. Which, frankly, means we may not see much of him the rest of the season (coming back for the second-round of the Western Conference this season would be a very tough spot to walk into).
Bynum is still just training in a pool, he may start running on a treadmill next week. Reports now are early April. Yes, it all makes me a little nervous, Iâ€™ve said before I donâ€™t think the Lakers can win it all this year without Bynumâ€™s defense in the paint.
That said, he is expected to be back. And I donâ€™t think the adjustment period will be that long, itâ€™s more a matter of conditioning.
The Clippers Coming In: Letâ€™s go with the positives for the Clips tonight. First, Al Thorton is a beast. Great get, heâ€™s really developing into something. Second, Tim Thomas likely wonâ€™t play tonight, that should help the Clips on defense. Finally, Corey Maggette continues to be playing well, scoring 23 a game the last 10 and driving the Clippers offense.
Last Time They Met: Back on Feb. 23 Kobe was having an off-shooting night (and was doubled constantly), Fisher was off early and in foul trouble, and the result was a fairly even first half. In the second half the Lakers turned up the offense, Kobe was more decoy than shooter and the Lakers pulled away big by midway through the third and coasted the rest of the way.
Odom had 20 and 10, Gasol was high scorer with 23 and was able to get those points almost however he wanted.
One difference tonight, Kaman should play
Keys To The Game: Having Kaman back and on Gasol should make this an interesting contest â€” while playing with a sore back now Kaman is still having a breakout year and is the style of big who can get inside on Gasol and give him issues.
Lamar Odom had a big game last time with the defensively-useless Tim Thomas on him and should be able to do so against Josh Powell again. Also, the Clippers last time doubled Kobe nearly every time he touched the ball (especially on the pick-and-roll) and the Lakers spaced the floor well to make them pay for that. The Lakers should get buckets tonight.
The Clips are just not just much of an offensive team, put the clamps on early and this game is much simpler. Good defense = more Son of George. And we all want that.
Where you can watch: The game is at 7:30 (Pacific) on Fox Sports in Los Angeles and League Pass nationally.