Records: Lakers 30-11 (2nd in West), Clippers 13-25 (13th in West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 112.2 (1st in NBA), Clippers 105.4 (20th in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 103.9 (9th in NBA), Clippers 108.5 (20th in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Clippers: Baron Davis, Eric Gordon, Ryan Gomes, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan
Injuries: Lakers: Matt Barnes and Theo Ratliff (out); Clippers: Chris Kaman, Craig Smith and Brian Cook (all out)
The Lakers Coming in: Right now, there’s not a hotter team than the Lakers. They hold the league’s longest winning streak at 7 games and have moved up in the Western and league wide standings. They now sit in 2nd place in the West behind the Spurs and only trail the Celtics and Spurs for the best record in the league. After with half the season left to play, I’d prefer the Lakers were on top of the standings but I’m very pleased with where they stand now. Understand the Lakers still play the C’s twice and the Spurs three more times, so there is time to make up ground in the standings.
But that’s really talk for another day. As it stands now, my only concern is that the Lakers continue to play good basketball and improve as a team. And trust me, there is still plenty of room to improve. Not all the players are firing on all cylinders and a couple of the guys could use a positive turn in their games, not only for their individual benefit but to also help the team. This describes no one more than Steve Blake. I won’t get too much into it here, but you should check out C.A. Clark’s post on Blake detailing how the team could really use a bit more production from the reserve point guard. Personally, I think some aggression in Blake’s game would do everyone some good, but I also understand it’s tough to be aggressive when your shots aren’t falling all while you’re teamed with a bunch of all-star caliber players. Anyways, long story short, it’d really be nice if Blake started to find his groove again. That guy that hit those clutch shots on opening night against Houston would be a welcomed sight.
The Clippers Coming in: A funny thing has happened on the Clippers next trip to the lottery. They became must see TV. And it’s all because of Blake Griffin. He’s simply amazing. Not to overhype the kid but, you know, he deserves it. As Kelly Dwyer recently wrote:
There really hasn’t been anything like it, since LeBron James'(notes) first year in the NBA back in 2003, or Tim Duncan’s(notes) initial trot through the league way back in 1997-98. And even those weren’t met with the sort of breathless reactions that just 2 1/2 months worth of Griff have given us.
Better than the highlights, though, is the fact that he’s got the Clippers winning games. Victors in 8 of their last 12 contests – including wins over the Bulls, Nuggets, and Heat – the Clips are now a competitive team that is playing excellent basketball nearly every night. And it’s not just the Griffin show either. Eric Gordon continues to impress as one of the better young guards in the league and even Baron Davis is starting to provide returns on the hefty investment this team put in him. When you add those three to DeAndre Jordan, Eric Bledsoe, and Al-Farouq Aminu the Clips have a nice mix of young athletes and difference makers that give the opposition headaches. It’s easy to see that if the Clips hadn’t dug themselves such a hole early in the season, they’d easily be in contention for a playoff spot in the stacked West. This team is no longer a pushover.
Clippers Blogs: For news on the other LA team, go read the excellent work at ClipperBlog.
Keys to game: Based off everything I just wrote about the Clips, you know this will not be an easy game for the Lakers to win. The Clips have size, athleticism, and quickness to counter all of the Lakers strengths while also being able to take advantage of their weaknesses.
So, if the Lakers are to prevail discipline will be the key. The Lakers surely want to attack inside but they must do so with smarts and with patience. Simple dump downs to Pau and Bynum will yield solid results, but what will work much better is running the offense to better openings for the bigs. By setting screens and using the various actions of the Triangle, the Lakers should be able to get both Drew and Pau better looks at the basket by having them catch the ball on the move and dashing into space.
However, if the Lakers are going to go for straight post ups, I’d prefer that they attack Griffin rather than the ever improving DeAndre Jordan. If there is a hole in Griffin’s game it’s in his individual defense as he often relies on his athletic ability to make up for getting beat to a spot or briefly getting lost on that end. But, if Griffin gets beat to a spot by Pau, the big Spaniard can make him pay by executing one of his many post moves or counters to get easy baskets around the rim. Plus, if Griffin gets beat too many times he may be forced to foul which could end up being an even better result for the Lakers as the prized rookie may just end up on the bench rather than attacking the rim on other end as payback.
Obviously Kobe is also a major key to the Lakers offensive game plan but today he’ll face a defender that has historically given him some issues. Eric Gordon has the quickness to stay with Kobe off the bounce and strength and leaping ability to challenge him in the post and on his turnaround jumper. This has often meant that Kobe works hard to get the buckets he does get against Gordon and usually while walking the line between operating within the offense and not. Today, I’d love to see Kobe take a step back from being a creator on offense and instead work more off the ball to get his shots. As I mentioned with the big men, this is a game where offensive discipline will be key and Kobe should not be an exception when it comes to this attack.
Defensively, the Lakers will have their hands full with Griffin, Gordon and the suddenly-cares-again Baron Davis. The Clips will take every opportunity to try and get these guys going in both transition and in the half court and the Lakers must be ready for what they have in store. When operating against the Clips set O, the Lakers must be prepared for the stagger screen sets they run for Gordon to get him open to shoot his wonderful jumper. The Lakers bigs need to be prepared to step out to deny passes to Gordon as Kobe (or Artest) chase around screens to get themselves in position to defend Gordon on the catch. If they can briefly disrupt this set it will allow the D to recover and hopefully put everyone in position to deal with Gordon’s underrated first step.
As for Davis and Griffin, they love to run the P&R similar to what we’ve typically seen from Nash and Amar’e. Davis loves to come off the screen looking for a diving Griffin, but has no qualms attacking off the dribble to look for his own shot. Davis will settle for the jumper if you go under screens but the Lakers must be careful that he doesn’t get hot from the outside as he can easily get going and get buckets in bunches if his jumper is falling. That said, I’d much rather see Baron hoisting jumpers from deep than penetrating the Lakers interior and finding open mates or getting the Lakers’ bigs in foul trouble. When dealing with Griffin, the Lakers will need sharp rotations from the weak side to deal with his dives to the basket with a 2nd (or even 3rd) layer of defense there to contest his shots at the rim. I understand that no one wants to be in the latest poster shot, but the rotations must come fast and the challenge must be there to ensure that he doesn’t get the easy basket. If the Lakers can do all this without fouling, that’d be best as Griffin has been feasting at the foul line this year averaging 8.4 FTA’s per game (good for 6th most in the league).
As I mentioned earlier, this game is by no means an easy win. The last time these two teams met the Lakers barely escaped with the win, needing a buzzer beating D-Fish lay-in to claim the W. Needless to say, if the team is depending on that type of finish again they’ll likely be disappointed at the end of the contest. The Lakers will need to play smart and use their offense to their advantage while getting back in transition and controlling the paint on defense. The Lakers definitely have the ingredients and the smarts to execute this plan to perfection but after struggling to fully follow through against the Nets and the Warriors, there is a doubt that it will get done. The win streak being extended to 8 depends on it though, so here’s hoping it happens.
Where you can watch: 12:30pm start time on KCAL. Also listen live on ESPN Radio 710am.
This one’s for Warren!
On a side note, anyone else see the ending of the Heat-Bulls game last night? WOW that was a crazy exciting ending. Rose v Wade was classic.
Can’t wait to see Blake Griffin vs our bigs as well.
This is the type team the Lakers have trouble with (young, energetic, with active bigs). Hopefully Pau and Drew play better than last game or Griffin might go for 50. This is Lamar’s best chance to prove he deserves the All-Star nod. If he outplays Griffin (which LaBrawn didn’t) it would speak volumes.
Craig W. says
You make the mistake of thinking the All-Star Game is about pure talent, not flash and popularity. Sorry, but Lamar isn’t getting in over Griffin, regardless.
…and I am in no way implying that Griffin isn’t an extremely talented player. He is just more flashy and is also the ‘IT’ factor right now.
I just want to see another W added to the Laker record after the buzzer sounds tonight… would be nice if they play well and win their individual match-ups. Just the W is all that matters…
chris h says
rose v wade … funny, sounds like a supreme court decision.
seems like LO has learned to stay out of foul trouble this season, or, maybe the refs have finally decided to let him out of their doghouse, only to put young ‘Drew into it.
Drew’s got to learn how to avoid being in places where he’s going to get called, even if he didn’t make the foul. just like LO seems to have done this season.
we need Drew to stay on the floor, or learn how to, over the second half of the season, so he’s got it in his head for the playoffs.
Darius Soriano says
One thing I didn’t mention in the preview was that in the last game Artest really did a good job guarding Griffin down the stretch in the 4th quarter. Ron used his combo of strength, (relative) foot speed, and excellent hands to push Griffin off his spots and deflect entry passes when the Clips tried to isolate him on the wing. Now that ‘Drew is back and the Lakers have their full compliment of bigs I doubt Ron will be forced into guarding Blake, but I think it’s a good tool for Phil to have in his bag today if Griffin is having a lot of success against other defenders.
lil' pau says
Has there ever been a better 13-25 team in league history, a team legitimately capable of beating any other team in the league? It’s too bad the Clips started so terribly (1-13, I think), as for the first time in a long while there’s going to be room at the bottom of the western conf playoffs this year as Portland, Phx, and Melo-less Den continue to plummet. Are the Clips better than, say, NO? I think they certainly are. Better than Mem and Hou, too, of course… which should have made them a lock for the playoffs, perhaps even as high as the 6.
But then again, they’re the Clippers.
As a Laker fan, these athletic teams scare the hell out of me, but if they can’t hang with the Clips, then OKC is going to be ugly now AND in May… Can’t have it both ways, though, either you’re big or you’re athletic, and I’d still rather have Pau than Blake.
Darius Soriano says
#7. The Clips actually have above average talent at every position except SF. Baron, when in shape and mentally into the game, is an excellent PG. Gordon is an all-star caliber guard and was a key player on the WC team for Team USA. Even a guy like DeAndre Jordan is a physical specimen that does exactly what a team with Griffin needs (rebound, block shots, garbage points in the paint, etc). As Griffin develops this team will only grow around him and they will become contenders for the playoffs every season. To me, at least, Griffin is that type of player.
You also make the mistake to think that I don’t that Blake is in. This comes down to the final pick between Rudy Gay, Steve Nash, Kevin Love, Zach Randolph or Lamar. All are having better seasons than Lamar but if he can do something to garner recognition, he may have a slight chance. I don’t think he can play any better than he has this year. Especially on a team as stacked as the Lakers.
T. Rogers says
7 – It really shows why Clipper fans should be upset with Baron for coming into camp out of shape. Had Baron actually kept his body in good condition the Clips could be on their way to a playoff berth. And they would be a scary first round out for any higher seed (and that includes our Lakers). The better this team looks the more disappointed with Baron I become.
On to the game. The Lakers better come to play. That stuff they pulled with the Nets the other night won’t work. The Clips will run fast and jump high, two things the Lakers have problems defending. Still if the Lakers run their offense and use their skill they should get the W.
An athletic team like the Clips need to get out and run. If LA is not careless with the ball or chucking, then it should allow for its size to cause problems on the inside. With Kaman and C. Smith(gives LA problems on the boards) out due to injuries. A frontcourt of LO, Bynum, and Pau should be able to wear down D. Jordan and Griff on the inside over the course of 48 mins.
Hopefully Artest will see more time on Gordon, with his strong and quick hands, causing him to have to work on every possession to get off shots. Bean’s roaming techniques will be dangerous on a scorer of his caliber.
I just hope that between the Warriors/Nets games the Lakers played recently and with the Clippers beating the Heat while we got embarrassed on Christmas, the Lakers will come out and play with an urgency to prove something this game.
Igor Avidon says
I watch more Clipper games than Laker games simply because of Blake Griffin. The kid’s amazing to behold. This smells like a Clipper win to me.
Anyone got a link? Go Lakers!
LA doing a good job of being aggresive on the offensive end(11 free throws in first quarter). Defensively work has to done on the boards and getting out on shooters.
today may be a Kobe takeover game
Shannon is really forcing things right now, there’s no offense flaw in second unit…
There is just no clean flow to this game it seems. Sloppy plays, missed shots, turnovers. Bynum has been the difference in this game, his length has made the difference alone.
…and we’ve somehow taken the lead, but only because Clippers attack is so bad w/o Blake and Davis.
would be nice if 1 wide open 3 would go in
Do the Lakers have to use the visitor’s locker room for this game? Or can they just use the one’s that they normally keep as a home team?
Darius Soriano says
#22. I believe the Lakers and Clippers both have their own lockerrooms. Visiting teams also have a lockerroom…so there are three @ Staples.
Sloppy game indeed, but I think we’ll be fine. Just limit their second chances and avoid really stupid decisions, like that Fisher PUJIT three 🙂
On another topic, I watched Purdue at West Virginia today and saw JaJuan Johnson for the first time. He’s got nice ball-handling and perimeter game for a 6-10 guy…
Lakers cant hit a open 3 to save their lives this game
Stop! Kobe time!
Bynum is absolutely owning the paint right now. Everything is getting sent back.
The Laker defense has been awesome this quarter
Igor Avidon says
Wow that was straight up dirty by Fish.. not used to seeing that..
A great 3rd spoiled by the last 3 min of play. Yuck!
How can you miss that call on Bynum? And instead of being up by 8, it’s only 3…
Odom guarding Griffin is not a good move….
Andreas G. says
We need to get Drew back in there so Pau can guard Blake. Odom has had trouble with him so far, and Pau has held him to just two points.
Then let Kobe finish them off;)
Don’t look now, but Pau can’t stop Griffin either…
Andreas G. says
Boy, did I ever jinx Pau’s D..
Typical Lakers, cant get a stop in the critical moments of games.
Ugh what a miserable 4th quarter by the Lakers. No movement on offense, a step slow on defense. This was a game they should have won. Very disappointed that our bigs weren’t able to control the paint. Check the rebounds for Griffin, Jordan and Diogu–that’s the ballgame right there.
yikes on the D, Clippers have scored on 11 straight possessions
Yes 39, its been horrible to watch.
Bynum has played well but Pau was a complete non-factor this half.
Let’s be frank-people were too excited about this 7 wins in a row, the Lakers still have a lot of issues to solve and still don’t play like a champion contender.I’m really worried about next 2 weeks.
lil' pau says
Love how the Lakers continually rotated away from EG, even after he was torching us. We may be the dumbest defensive team in the league.
T. Rogers says
Fellow Laker fans:
Welcome to the second half of the schedule.
Reign on Parades says
Thankfully I missed the second half to watch Jets/Patriots
Will be fascinated to see how we minimize Derek Fisher’s 1-8 shooting in the game recap
Also my greatest disappointment with the latter half of Kobe’s career is that he (refuses to?) develop a 40% 3 point set shot like someone like Pierce or Kidd did.
I understand that his ego probably wouldn’t let him do it but it seems like it’d really help some nights
It is time to see if that 7 game win streak was really the result of the Lakers great play, or just the fact they played bad teams, because the good teams are coming up. Today, they just got totally outclassed by a young Clipper team in the last 5 minutes.
In the fourth the lakers O made it too easy for the clippers D. Walk up ball, not get ball into post, pass around and jack up shot near end of 24 second clock. Maybe the Lakers need a three point shooting coach or something, cuz they really avoid that open three after the swing around pass a lot, and it gets the Offense into trouble and generally stagnant. That’s happened a Bunch of times this year and Gordon and foye were just draining threes on their end.
Bad loss by lakers, but good game by clippers.
This is an article you don’t want to miss! Who is better Kobe Bryant or LeBron James? Share your thoughts. http://parsonssportstalk.blogspot.com/2011/01/lebron-vs-kobe.html
It is tough to win a game when you shoot 3/20 on 3s and give up 15 ORBs.
Again: Steve Blake needs to do something. I understand that stats don’t tell you everything and that he has a job in the system. But he needs to score 10 points once in awhile.
For what is supposed to be a veteran team, the Lakers play some of the most undisciplined defense in the league. The ball watching has got to stop. And can someone please tell Derek Fisher and Ron Artest to stop trying to shoot off the dribble and pump fake themselves out of rhythm. Fish especially. He gets wide open threes, yet he has to pump fake when no one is around and dribble one step inside the line, only to brick the shot.
49 Completely agree on Blake. He seems to get rid of the ball like a hot potato when it comes to him. He isn’t making plays out there in any capacity right now, and with Fish going through his usual regular season shooting slump, this is bad news for the team. That said, seeing Pau become a non-factor once again is also a discouraging trend. What happened to Pau’s 12-16 foot jumper? He needs to start knocking that down again to open up space for drives to the hoop, especially when Bynum is playing with him. Sigh. Tomorrow’s game is going to be rough. I think Westbrook will be going for career highs across the board…
lil' pau says
And while we’re piling on, how come every time we see a zone it’s like the first time? How many 3s did we shoot against the zone?! It seemed like every possession we just let it fly and are completely unable to establish our bigs within the confines of the zone D.
If we have this much trouble with Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, just think what KG and Perk are going to look like….
Jeff Skibiski says
Recap is up: http://www.forumblueandgold.com/2011/01/16/lakersclippers-seeds-of-a-rivalry/
I warned you guys!!!!