Records: Lakers 16-7 (3rd in West), Nets 6-17 (last in East)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 113.5 (1st in NBA), Nets 102.6 (26th in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.1 (10th in NBA), Nets 108.8 (20th in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Nets: Devin Harris, Anthony Morrow, Travis Outlaw, Kris Humphries, Brook Lopez
Injuries: Lakers: Andrew Bynum, Theo Ratliff (out); Nets: Devin Harris, Derrick Favors (questionable)
The Lakers Coming in: The great thing about a road trip is that after every game – whether you win or lose – a team literally moves on to the next game. There’s no sitting at home and thinking about the most recent performance and getting too high or too low in the process. Instead there’s a plane to catch and another hotel to check into and another opponent awaiting in the next city when you land. So after the Lakers lost to the Bulls on Friday, there’s actually little time to dwell on what happened that night but rather they need to quickly adjust their focus to the Nets.
The Nets Coming in: Sitting at 6-17 the Nets are, record wise, the worst team in the eastern conference. They’ve lost their last 6 games, including their last 3 by double digits each time. This really should’t be surprising considering how bad the Nets were last year and the fact that it really is hard to turn around a franchise in one year. But there is some talent on this team, so in a way, it is surprising that they aren’t putting it together more on each night with better results to show for their efforts.
One player to keep your eye on today is Nets Center, Brook Lopez. After last season’s jump to becoming one of the better young players in the league, Lopez hasn’t continued to improve this year. In fact, you could say that he may have regressed some. His scoring is up about a point a game, but his FG% is down nearly 5 points and his rebounding is also suffering as he’s only grabbing 6.3 rebounds a game (which is 2 less than last year). Lopez is a building block player for the Nets and a key to their turnaround. If he continues to struggle with efficiency while settling for too many jumpers, the Nets won’t take the next step forward and will likely remain a bottom dwelling team. Other players – Harris, #2 over all pick Derrick Favors – are also important to the long term success of this team, but as Brook goes do the Nets.
Nets Blogs: Nets are Scorching does a great job covering the Nets. You can check out their pre-game thoughts here.
Keys to game: The keys to this game are fairly simple. The Lakers will need to contain the Nets in the open court and help on penetration in the half court against Devin Harris and our old friend Jordan Farmar. Both of the NJ point men are attack guards and love to get to the hole off the dribble to either finish for themselves or create for their teammates (though it’s usually much more of the former). The Nets run a lot of the same sets that Dallas ran when Avery Johnson was their coach so you can expect a heavy dosage of P&R and wing isolations when Jersey is in their half court offense.
On the P&R, the best strategy is still to go under the screen on every Jersey ball handler not named Anthony Morrow. While Harris and Farmar can hurt you with their jumper, they’re so much more dangerous exploding off the screen to get into the lane so forcing them out on the floor will be key. As for the wing isolations, expect to see a lot of former Blazer (and Clipper) Travis Outlaw trying to create for himself with the floor cleared. Outlaw’s specialty is still shooting his high release jumper from the wing against any kind of defense and he’ll look to try and score today in that same manner against Ron Artest and Matt Barnes.
Offensively the Lakers just need to be patient and stay with what works for longer stretches. The Lakers can’t get caught up in playing too fast a pace, so should settle into their half court sets by attacking the post with Kobe and Gasol. Setting good screens and cutting hard into open space should also result in some easy baskets when the Lakers actually commit to running the Triangle. Remember, the Nets are in the bottom third of defensive teams and the way to attack them is to occupy them off the ball with good movement so they can’t just zone in on any one ball handler trying to create against a set defense. Kris Humphries has actually done a very good job as a weakside shot blocker this year, so the Lakers should be aware that he’s lurking on the backside.
In the end, this is a game that the Lakers should win. Early start or not, the Nets don’t have the talent to compete over the course of an entire game and one or two good runs with solid play throughout the rest of the contest should get the job done today. Here’s to them doing just that and getting the Lakers back on the winning track.
Where you can watch: 10am start time out west on KCAL. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710am.
For Warren! on an early Sunday
can anyone link me to the game please?
Darius Soriano says
Here’s a link:
Joel B. says
Oh my goodness, this is some ugly brand of basketball. Other than that shot by ebanks, this is just ugly.
I love phil jackson. I’ve been thinking we needed more athleticism on the floor lately and getting E banks ready for later in the season should give the young guy some confidence. Is it me or Kobe hasn’t finished with his left a lot this season?
I’m suprised Pau’s having such a problem with Lopez’s size. I know that he’s handled guys with that size better than he’s dealing with him today. Other than getting a block and forcing a travel, so far Lopez has seemed more dominant on rebounds, positioning and strength in the post. I know that Pau isn’t made to be playing centers but after almost 3 seasons of constantly filling in at center for us I just thought he wasn’t such a liability defensively for us. (Caracter definitely seemed to be more effective)
Once again, playin’ Down 2 the level of the Opposition. On another note, much respect 2 Phil for getting Ebanks some early run considering he’s from these parts (Queens). Pretty sure that he, along with DC, LO, Ron-Ron & Drew have plenty of Friends and Family n the building.
Pau’s getting abused out there.
Is that 4 of 5 run by Kobe a sign of a lot of shooting to come?
Kobe’s shot is looking alot better than what his box score indicates on a nightly basis. Also, LO is really looking great so far.
Question, for those who have got to watch most the games this season, would you say this is the best LO has looked since being a Laker?
Haven’t I seen this game already this season? Make a run, get a double-digit lead, then just allow a run the other way due to giving up offensive boards and turning the ball over. Keeps the opposition in the game, and gives them the chance to make things happen in the 4th quarter.
Joel B. says
11. LO is looking great on the *offensive* end. He absolutely terrible defensively and has been for a while. The box score indicates he’s playing better than what he actually is.
But man the lakers are terrible when shannon brown initiates the offense. He’s a pure finisher wether it be catch and shoot or at the rim. He is not a ball handler at all and I cringe when I see him look off Blake and decides to take the ball upcourt himself.
Looks like farmar is trying to prove something against Blake
Joel B. says
Man I would love to see Caracter in the game with Pau instead of in the game for Pau.
Joel B.- Thanks for that insight. I agree completely about Shannon. He’s worth every penny now that he finishes from the outside consistantly but someone really needs to tell him he’s a pure shooting guard. It kinda sucks that we were forced to use him as a p.g last season but now we really don’t need that any more now that we have a consistant back-up p.g in Blake. We obvioulsy have a lot of room to grow. As long as we are able to maintain a strong record and start improving our strategies on both sides of the floor I think we’ll be okay. It’ll be just like last year. We’re just going to peak real late in the season, if not in the playoffs.
This might be the ugliest of the season so far…the defense is non-existent and the offense didn’t make the road trip
This is going down to the last 30 seconds isn’t it?
harris has taken a few suspect charges tonight.
Take your time and just have a nice percentage 2, guys. Yeah, after this road trip I will have to decide if I need to send Artest to the bench permanently in my fantasy team, only use him if I have an injury with a better player, I am sad about this.
Un F N Believable. Pls tell me that we’re not Struggling against the Nets? The team with the WORST RECORD in the Leastern Conference and LOSERS of 6 in a Row.
OK, so I should’ve said, “This is going down to the last 90 seconds isn’t it?”
Nice to see some instensity and execution at this point of the game. That’s been a bit of a concern over the last 2 weeks or so…
Exactly Tra. Against a team that hasn’t won a game since what? 1985? Looks like we’re gonna pull this one out, so I’m sure everyone will be popping the champagne like it’s the greatest accomplishment ever. Not to mention the hundreds of excuses as to why this game was close.
Lamar’s offense and Kobe’s astute play won this game for us.
Darius Soriano says
#21 and #23. Personally, I’ll take the win and smile thank you very much.
I’m frustrated just like any other fan, but what’s changed for the Lakers in the past three weeks that makes people believe that suddenly they’re going to play loads better? I mean, I hate to keep saying the same things but playing without a back up big man is really hurting this team. There’s a ripple affect that goes through the entire team and lots of games are going to be closer than they should be.
You can’t expect the guards to light up the hoop every night. Our only backup big-man is a rookie…and he’s not very big.
When the shots are falling, the Lakers easily decimate teams like this- we’ve already seen it. When it’s not and it comes down to defense, well, our major strengths are not with us right now.
Things WILL change when Bynum returns. His offense is gravy, but there’s no denying his defensive impact and the impact it will have on moving guys back to their regular positions.
It’s going to be alright guys.
It seems Bynum will use anything as an excuse to push back his expected return date, even NYC traffic…literally
Jeff Skibiski says
Recap is up: http://www.forumblueandgold.com/2010/12/12/lakersnets-l-a-escapes-jersey-with-a-w/
#27…c’mon. The article says quite clearly why he would delay his return- he wants more practice. Putting it out there like Bynum doesn’t want to play or something is silly.