Records: Lakers 15-6 (4th in West), Clippers 5-17 (14th in West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 115.7 (1st in NBA), Clippers 104.4 (22nd in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 106.4 (13th in NBA), Clippers 111.0 (27th in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers:Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Clippers: Eric Bledsoe, Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan
Injuries: Lakers: Andrew Bynum, Theo Ratliff (out); Clippers: Baron Davis, Randy Foye (questionable), Chris Kaman (out)
The Lakers Coming in: Two straight wins have the Lakers back on track. Somewhat. They’ve played lower wrung teams so the real test wasn’t necessarily pulling out the victories, but how they went about accomplishing the task. Last night the Lakers did many things well, but one of them was not keeping their focus. After building a big 1st quarter lead, the Lakers let off the gas and turned the game into back and forth game of matching buckets rather than a one sided affair. There will be nights like that during a season so I’m not going to dwell too much on what could have been done better or get upset that what could have been a double digit cruise turned into a game that was close in the final minutes.
Instead, I’d rather focus on the positives. Like Kobe attacking the paint for the second straight game. Like Odom continuing his consistently stellar play. Like Gasol finding a rhythm in a game where he started 1-6 from the floor (something that doesn’t always happen). Like Shannon finding his shooting stroke again. And ditto for Steve Blake. Like Artest playing mostly dogged defense on Arenas and Wall. And with reinforcements on the way, the Lakers will get better. I’m not saying games like last night won’t happen again – we’ll probably see anywhere from 5-10 more games like it this year. But the Lakers are right where they should be. They’re figuring each other out on the floor and witha road trip approaching they’ll have more time to bond and grow together off of it too. We may be 21 games into the year, but things are really only now getting started.
The Clippers Coming in: Even though the Clippers are 5-17, they’ve won 4 of their last 8 games. Included in that set are wins over the Spurs and Hornets. So while the Clippers aren’t performing consistently, the potential to beat some of the better teams in the league is right there.
Because while there are questions surrounding the coaching of this team, there are not questions about the overall talent on this roster. Eric Gordon was a key player for Team USA in their run to the World Championship this past summer. Eric Bledsoe and Al-Farouq Aminu are two promising rookies. Veterans Baron Davis and Chris Kaman, while dealing withinjuries this year, are both all-star caliber players when healthy and fully engaged.
Andthen, of course, there’s last year’s #1 overall pick Blake Griffin – a player that combines unbelievable athletic ability with a joy and love of playing basketball that we’ve rarely seen in a player his size. I know this will come off as pure hyperbole, but the young man runs like Karl Malone, pogo bounces like young Amar’e, and finishes in traffic as well and as nastily as Shawn Kemp. Sure, his rebounding technique needs work (he often just out-jumps players for boards rather than boxing out) and his FT’s should be much better than what they are, but those are things that should improve as his career goes on. So while he may not yet be one of elite PF’s in the league (he’s not yet close to that Dirk and Pau stratosphere) you can see the potential. And if you haven’t yet, please just watch his highlight reel vs. the Knicks for a taste of what he can do.
Clippers Blogs: ClipperBlog has long been the destination for smart analysis on LA’s other basketball team. That’s as true today as it’s ever been.
Keys to game: Whenever the Lakers and Clippers meet there’s a certain buzz in the air. The Clips have long been seen as the younger, less talented brother in the LA basketball family and that often brings out the emotions on their side – especially when it’s a Clipper “home” game as it is tonight.
So, if the Lakers are going to win tonight’s game, they’ll need to rely on their experience and smarts. They’ll need to take the emotion out of the game and make the contest about execution and precision, not running andjumping. That means being deliberate, which also translates into post play. With Kaman likely out, the task of slowing Gasol and his arsenal of post moves falls to DeAndre Jordan. Jordan is a very good athlete, but like JaVale McGee last night, Pau should be able to score when patient andwhen attacking with a good base under him. That means, just like last night, going into Pau on the left block and letting him dribble into his back down where he can shoot his lefty hook or drive middle to create for himself or a teammate.
This same game plan should apply to Kobe as well. As I mentioned earlier, Kobe has been very good at attacking the paint and tonight should be no different. Gordon is a game defender and often gives Kobe a hard time when #24 tries to create off the dribble from deep on the floor. So instead, Kobe will need to work better off the ball (as he has in the last two games) by using screens and hard cuts to get into the positions where he can make a catch and go to work closer to the basket. Eric Gordon is an underrated athlete and will contest Kobe’s shots effectively, but he is giving up some height so Kobe should be able to get his shot up over the top of him.
Defensively, the Lakers will need to be ready to defend a steady dosage of P&R’s tonight. Similar to the way that Amar’e is deployed, the Clippers like to run 1-4 P&R’s where Blake and the PG set up shop at the top of the circle or the extended wing and run this action to free up Griffin on a dive where he can use his explosiveness to finish in the lane. Bledsoe, while not a classic play making PG has shown capable of running the P&R so the Lakers will have to be heady in hedging, recovering, and rotating in order to avoid showing up on tonight’s SportsCenter highlights.
Staying with the active bodies of Griffin, Jordan, andthe rest of the Clips’ young guns on both the boards and on drives will be the other key. The Clippers rank 8th in Offensive Rebounding Rate andare constantly attacking the glass after misses to create second chance opportunities. Griffin and Jordan love to just out-jump opponents so Odom and Gasol will have be better than normal at finding their man and boxing out. This also means the guards and wings will need to help more on the glass tonight, so look for Kobe, Artest, Barnes, and Shannon to do their jobs by hitting the glass. The Clips are also excellent at drawing fouls, so the Lakers will also need to defend without losing discipline. Avoid reaching, grabbing, and pushing. Instead, focus on position D and force the Clippers to shoot jumpers over contested hands or change directions before elevating to finish inside.
If nothing else, this game should be exciting. Griffin alone makes the Clippers watchable but when the Lakers are on the schedule it makes the game even more of a must see. I’ll give the Clips the highlights if the Lakers can start their “road” trip off with a good win against a team that will look to show the glamour team that they too are for real (if only for one night).
Where you can watch: 7:30 start time out West on KCAL or on Prime Ticket for the locals. Also listen at ESPN Radio 710am.
lil' pau says
Warren. Not that the mojo should be required tonight.
I dunno after the way the Lakers let the Wiz hang around last night.
This is another game Gasol and the Lakers will have some problems with until Bynum returns. Gasol doesn’t have the size to match up with the springy Jordan and the Lakers are again smaller if not shorter than the oppsoing Center and PF of the other team. The Lakers will most likley give up plenty of offensive rebounds.
Griffin and Gordon have worked wonders for my nba fantasy league team. I hope those 2 can put up great numbers and still lose the game tonight.
Another guy I’m going to watch out for is Craig Smith, at the least he’s a guy who seems to score very well against the Lakers
I agree with Aaron’s opinion, but at least for us Kaman isn’t going to suit up.
Odom was awesome last night, hopefully it will continue. If Pau has one of those flatfooted games tonight, I can see Griffin posterizing him… a lot.
I haven’t watched a whole lot of Griffin, but it really looks like he plays mad. Especially after watching that highlight reel. That, to me, is really exciting to watch; coming out to do work. Let’s hope our guys bring that attitude as well.
Another Kentucky guy 🙂 Bledsoe is almost as fast as John Wall, but he is extremely turnover prone and will force bad shots and dribble into places he doesn’t belong. 3 Kentucky rookies back to back to back, along with Blake Griffin means I am in basketball heaven. I would love to see Lamar come out attacking the glass like he did last night, the guy is playing at an unbelievable level right now and it will be sorely needed tonight. He should be able to abuse Griffin on the blocks with his length.
Craig Smith. Random bench Laker killer. Hope we don’t have to worry about that tonight by putting it away early…
But who am I kidding? It’s the Lakers, we don’t really put things away early.
I love the early jump out to 8-0 with a FT to come though. (And I feel the same about Eric Gordon – I want fantasy numbers from him, but a L at the end of the night).
Any links guys?
Darius Soriano says
#8. Here you go:
Kobe keeps falling into our bigs and taking out their knees.
The Clippers play-by-play guy keeps calling Shannon ‘Devin Brown’..
Left ankle sprain for the rook. Not good, means we’ll likely have 2 healthy (well, semi healthy) bigs for our trip.
Clunky 1st half. Doesn’t seem like a lot of rhythm. And Craig Smith certainly knows he’s playing the Lakers. 7-4-2 already.
Against the fourth worst defense in the league, and we put up 41 points in the first half?
If you need someone to snap your offense into motion, Kobe is typically the guy.
Wow, only 16 comments so far. What, did everyone take this game for granted?
It’s too early I’m the season for me to get my playoff series’ ulcer, but tell that to my stomach!!!
I almost didn’t watch this game. Now I wish that I hadn’t.
17. lakers fans are like the lakers, nobody shows up until the playoffs.
I am disappointed in the way the Lakers are playing
Darius Soriano says
The Lakers look tired right now. This is where playing a close game against the Wiz last night hurts them. The Clips have young, fresh legs and the Lakers got pushed last night where guys had to play heavy minutes. Caracter going down doesn’t help either as now the Lakers bigs are going to have to go the distance.
TJ, you are so right. Nobody cares about playing poorly or losing. The team included, apparently.
I remember about 2 years ago the Lakers were great in their 2 game of back to back. Is this team really getting that old already?
The Lakers are missing a lot of easy shots and making a lot of lazy passes. Hopefully the bench can get a run going.
Joel B. says
The lakers have so many problems that can’t be solved by andrew bynum. The lakers bigs have been a huge liability on both ends of court over the past few weeks. Lamar has absolutely no energy. He’s getting man handled defensively and on offense he’s just standing around on the perimeter. Pau has fumbled so many passes in the lane over the last few games, he’s looking like Kwame in that aspect.
Thank you Shannon Brown.
That was straight in too! He didn’t even bank it.
I think that sums up Brown’s hot shooting so far this season.
Without Shannon this quarter the Lakers would be in a big hole, Pau’s defense and effort on that side of the floor sometimes leaves alot to be desired.
If I were Phil I would play Blake, Kobe, Shannon, Lamar and Pau the entire 4th I think it’s the best lineup they can put on the floor right now. Lamar needs to not pick up his 5th personal.
22 – I’m sure Phil’ll squeeze in a few minutes for Artest (and maybe even Barnes) at the 4, giving some rest for Gasol and Odom. But they’ll definitely have to shoulder even heavier loads now that they’re the only two bigs left standing.
Am i missing something here, no?
Thank u ShanWow for keeping us n this game n the 3rd quarter. And why r we double-teaming Blake Griffin when he’s 15 feet away from the basket.
We all know some of the horrendus stretches the Lakers have had in the 4th this season, so lets just hope they don’t fall into one of them
We’re due to win a close game.
Pau has been so frustrating to watch lately. Just once I would love to see him turn down his little 4 foot jumper and attack the rim and throw it down like Nene, Amare and Griffin do.
Pau, you’ve gotta be kidding me. We’ll chalk this one up as a serious anomaly.
Boy, this team just can not play well down the stretch at all this season, so frustrating to watch.
What’s wrong with Pau Gasol?
i dont care how many minutes pau has been playing, he shouldnt be this tired
@32, I hope you’re right because losing this many close games (especially to mediocre teams) is not a good sign no matter where you are in the season!
I’m sick of hearing this fatigue crap, if you are tired don’t play, you are hurting the team if you do. Kobe has set up Pau perfectly two possessions in a row and he’s squandered them.
Hey guys, just got back from deployment on Sunday and unfortunately this close 4th qtr game with the clipps’ is the first one I’m catching. Hopefully Kobe starts being more agreesive since differing to Pau isn’t working.
On another note, why isn’t Shannon in? Has Phil been showing this lack of trust in him this whole season despite his coming out year.
One Point Game! I Like It.
Up One! Thanks Ron and Kobe
Get a stop guys.
One more stop…
I hope this will be Ron Artest’s life-changing moment this season. 😉 We need that Ron!
A dunk is that last thing you would expect in a close game like this.
Kobe gives the Lakers the lead and Fisher wins it
I am about to cry…
That’s a couple of brain farts by Kobe now.
1. The tip in on Pau’s made shot that was offensive interference.
2. Going too late when the Clippers had a foul to give.
I am about to throw up…
Fish on a layup!!!! Wow.
I went from nooooooooooooooooo to ooooooohhhh!! 🙂
D-Fish is still the background on my phone for this reason! Love being a Lakers fan
DEREK FISHER THANK YOU!!!! Finally someone else steps up besides Kobe
oh my god. Derek Fisher lay-up for the win. I cannot believe what I’ve just seen.
How many driving layups has Fisher hit this year? As always, he makes the ones that matter.
my heart got jolted back into normal rhythm
Wait….we just won a close game…FINALLY!
Mr. 0.04 has become Mr. 0.0
Wow, that was close!
The very definition of clutch shooting, from both Kobe and Fisher in that last minute.
The real hero was shannon. Without him we wouldn’t have even had that opportunity
I thought about this earlier one of the biggest differences between this season and last season is last year Kobe bailed them out on several game winners which favored their record but this year he hasn’t been able to be put in a position to win except for a few games. It’s like a difference of 4-5 wins versus losses.
Take away Kobe’s game winners last year and the team probably looks very similar struggle wise as they do now.
You know, when Derek started trucking towards the lane at about 5 mph, I was thinking time was gonna run out with him still dribbling.
Artest defense leads to clutch shooting of Kobe and Derek..what a great job by the bench
Fisher clutch as usual. Love seeing that stuff.
Thank You Derek Fisher for getting the Lakers road trip off to a good start
You cannot stop Derek Fisher’s intangibles, you can only hope to contain them. Also – anyone ever see Derek Fisher get cut in a game while scuffling for the ball? No? Well, he has, but you all thought it was sweat. It was actually ice water flowing out from his veins
Disappointed with our Performance, but Ecstatic about the Outcome. Bottom Line: We Stole 1 Tonight. Once again ‘El Presidente’ comes through n da Clutch.
haha Reminds me of Fisher’s layup in the Finals against the Celtics. Not as great as that one of course, but still sweet.
Joel B. says
Wow, I’m shocked. I scared my puppy half to death yelling when fish made that lay-up. But I’m always very critical of fish, but he always comes through in the clutch. Lakers deserved to lose this game, but they escaped so put this w in the bag. But the lakers are going to need to play much better when the road trip “officially” starts.
Pau and Odom have to play better on the defensive end.
Time to change Fisher’s handle from ‘0.4’ to ‘0.1’ lol…WHOOO!!!
I liked Kobe’s statline from 3 tonight. 1-2 (50%). That’s about how many 3’s he should be taking unless they are wide open in rhythm shots.
The Dude Abides says
Hilarious tweet from Simmons:
That was a brutal way for Eric Bledsoe to find out that Derek Fisher is lefthanded.
about 1 hour ago via web
Looking at the slate of games tonight, I don’t think anyone would’ve predicted the Lakers to have the lowest score of any team who got a W.
Here’s hoping that the rest of the road trip (the part not in LA!) is a little more convincing.
Upsides – Kobe’s FG% the last 2 games, and they way we’ve started games.
Downsides – Not killing off teams when we should, and not showing enough defensive intensity or consistency.
Other than the finish, wow, 1 point W against the clips is nothing to be excited about.
But adding another clutch moment to the already impressive portfolio of Fish is quite priceless.
chris h says
the worst PG in the NBA 😉
Darius Soriano says
Abridged recap tonight is up.