The Lakers start a 4 game road trip tonight in New Orleans, a trip which will double as a Kobe retirement tour at every stop. So, expect there to be some tribute videos and electric environments full of fans for both teams eager to say their goodbyes to #24. With this, of course, comes some distractions, even if only small ones.
This isn’t the biggest deal, but it it’s not nothing either. Kobe will be showered with good vibes and the rest of the team will have to try and channel that energy into positive performances. Because no matter how the game goes, Kobe will get his cheers. I’ve no clue how his teammates fell about this — I’d imagine it’s a bit cool to see — but hearing “oohs and ahs” when one guy touches the ball or takes a shot regardless of result has to at least be strange.
Anyways, that’s just one backdrop here. The game will go on and the Lakers will look to try and build on their game against the Timberwolves. Replicating Kobe’s 38 point effort isn’t likely, but the good performances from the team’s young players seems much more doable. Hopefully, Russell, Clarkson, and Randle (who has been playing well lately in general) can take positive steps forward and have some good games on this trip.
The wins, though, aren’t that likely to happen. This game against the Pelicans offers the team’s best chance for a W so I’m interested in seeing if the team acts accordingly. Strong effort defensively and attention to detail on the backboards and in rotating to shooters on the perimeter are vital. Marking Anthony Davis is a gameplan unto itself, but you cannot pay so much attention to Davis that you ignore Ryan Anderson or Jrue Holiday or Eric Gordon. Those guys have been very good players over the course of their careers and all can hurt you with space and opportunity. The Lakers, then, must try to limit both. We’ll see how it goes.
Where you can watch: 6:30pm start time on TWC Sportsnet and nationally on TNT. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM Los Angeles.