BobcatsLakers121812PRb

Preview: Bobcats vs. Lakers

For the first time this season, the Lakers won back-to-back games on the road beating Washington and Philadelphia over the weekend. And that was also the first time in a long time Laker fans saw their team put together consistent quarters in a span of 96 minutes.

While the Lakers is still far from becoming a team we can all fully assess, gathering wins is as important as progressing as a team so far this season. Part of the team's struggles is not having Steve Nash and Pau Gasol at their disposal. That could change a bit starting tonight against the reeling Charlotte Bobcats (7-16) at Staples Center.

After practicing with his teammates for the first time in 2 weeks, Gasol is officially listed as a game-time decision. A lot of that has to do with the lack of pain in both of his knees. If there's no setback after today's shootaround, there's a good chance we'll see Pau back on the court.

Nash, also, is making a lot of progress and joined Gasol as a practice attendee working on strengthening drills, 1-on-1 and some running. After tonight's game, the Lakers will be off until Saturday when they go back on the road against the Warriors. Those 3 off days is going to be key for Nash, especially, since his targeted return on Christmas day will depend upon how his leg reacts to going through a full scrimmage in practice.

Although the Bobcats have lost their last 11 games, the Lakers haven't exactly dominated this team since their inception in 2004. Charlotte has taken 8 of the last 12 meetings against the purple and gold simply because the Lakers often get caught overlooking them. Seeing the unpredictability of how the Lakers approach each game this season, this matchup shouldn't be counted as a "W" for them until the final buzzer sounds.

Charlotte gets the bulk of their points from their 2 point guards. Former Laker Ramon Sessions is averaging 14.4 points in 26.7 minutes this season. He isn't shooting well (38.7%/27.3% 3-points), so he earns a lot of his points by attacking the rim. Sessions leads his team in free-throw attempts at 5.8 per game.

But the one guy the Lakers need to concentrate on is Kemba Walker. The former UCONN standout is tops in team points (18.1 PPG), assists (6.1 APG) and steals (2.0 SPG). He may not be that much better than Sessions from distance (30.4%), but he's definitely a more dangerous scorer anywhere inside the arc averaging 42.8% from the field. If the Lakers can control Walker for much of the game, they should be fine. That means they will have to continue playing together on the defensive end.

The Lakers forced a combined 37 turnovers from their opponents in their last 2 games. A lot of that has to do with being aggressive in their team defense and reading the passing lanes quickly. Of course, Metta World Peace and Dwight Howard had a ton of influence in their recent defensive improvements, but it's always been about how the Lakers, as a unit, help one another on that end of the floor.

If we see that again tonight regardless of the opposition, that would mean that the Lakers are finally finding their nitch as a defensive team. That's going to be key for them when they welcome Nash back since the offense will continue to be a work in progress for Mike D'Antoni to figure out how he can best incorporate all of his pieces without sacrificing too much of his up-tempo style.

Matchup of the Game

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist vs. Kobe Bryant: Gilchrist will most likely move into the shooting guard position tonight since he's Charlotte's best answer for Kobe. That's because Bryant, not only is he the NBA's leading scorer (29.2 PPG) and has a career point average of 29.5 against the Bobcats, has only scored below 30 once in the month of December. But Bryant will need to keep Gilchrist away from the hoop while making sure he's sharp with his ball-handling against a solid defender.

Keys to the Game

> Contain Kemba: The first step to defeating a team is doing something about their best player. Kemba is the heart and soul of the Bobcats and has the ability to take over the scoring load for his team as evident in his 32-point performance in their last game against Orlando. Chris Duhon will have to make sure Kemba doesn't get a lot of open looks and will need to funnel him towards Dwight Howard on the drive. But the entire Lakers team need to help by crowding Walker in the paint and taking away passing outlets.

> Balanced Attack: Regardless of Charlotte being the worst defensive team in the league (103.9 PPG), there's absolutely no need for Kobe to continue to put up 30+ points tonight. If the Lakers want to seemlessly transition over to Nash taking over control of the offense, they will have to start involving everyone much like they did against Philadelphia.

> Consistency: There it is again. Yeah, they've done a good job the past 2 games in maintaining their focus and energy but that doesn't mean they can take the night off against the Bobcats. The goal this season hasn't changed for the Lakers. They can't accomplish that if they refuse to keep working at getting better and developing an identity.

Watch Out For

BOBCATS: Ben Gordon: Veteran players who can shoot coming off the bench have always given the Lakers fits historically. Despite being undersized at the 2 position, Gordon is still in the NBA because of his perimeter game. He's averaging 13.1 points on 43.4% shooting from the field and 43.9% from behind the arc for the Bobcats this year. That's some serious competition for Jodie Meeks to try to defend.

LAKERS: Metta World Peace: MWP has flown under the radar a bit during all of the team's struggles and Kobe's offensive barrage of late. But in the last 5 games, Metta is averaging 16 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2 steals while shooting 51% from the field and 40% from distance. Not to mention that he's been their lone consistent force on both ends of the floor the entire season. Look for him to be a major thorn for the Bobcats again.

Game Info

Tonight vs. Charlotte Bobcats
Tip-off: 7:30 p.m. (PST)
Staples Center
TV: TWC SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN/1330 KWKW

Injury Notes

BOBCATS: None

LAKERS: Jordan Hill (back – listed as Day-to-Day), Steve Nash (leg – out until possibly next week), Steve Blake (abdomen – out until January) and Pau Gasol (knees – game-time decision)
 

Preview: Bobcats vs. Lakers

The 7th best team in the east comes to Staples Center to see if they still have what it takes to defeat the defending champs in their first meeting of the season. The Charlotte Bobcats (24-23) has had the Lakers’ (37-12) number for the past 3 seasons owning a 7-1 record that spans since the 2005-06 season. That may not sound right to some Laker fans, but it is I’m afraid. The Bobcats just seem to have it almost each time they face the purple and gold.

The Lakers are back home for the first time in 2 weeks and are looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss against Memphis Monday night. Still, the Lakers ended an 8-game road trip with a winning record of 5-3. Not too good but not too bad either. Tonight, they’ll try to make it 8 in a row at their own building where they still have the best record in the entire league at 23-3.


Kobe Bryant became the Lakers’ all-time leading scorer after surpassing Jerry West as the NBA’s 14th leading scorer in history Monday night. He averages 34.1 points against the Bobcats in 9 meetings (including scoring 38 points the last time Charlotte was in town), but I have a feeling he’ll be involving his teammates more this time around now that he has achieved his recent career milestone.

Speaking of milestones, Phil Jackson can pass Pat Riley as the Lakers’ winningest coach with a win tonight at 534.

Charlotte acquired veteran 3-point specialist Stephen Jackson and Acie Law from Golden State for Raja Bell and Vlade Radmanovic. On paper, the move is for the Bobcats to acquire a more consistent perimeter shooter in Jackson in exchange for one expiring contract (Bell) and one bad contract (Radmanovic) to be sent to the Warriors. But most people think Jackson was sent to the Bobcats to prevent him from coming to a championship contender in Cleveland, Jackson’s preferred destination. I wouldn’t doubt it if that were true.

Jackson is leading Charlotte in scoring with a 21.2 average and 1.9 steals per game.

The biggest reason why the Bobcats are so successful against the Lakers is because of their defense. They have the best one right now in the league only allowing 93.8 point per game. They’re also 6th in field goal percentage defense and 3rd in three-point percentage defense. But the flip side is they’re 23rd in offensive ouput at 95.2 PPG, 20th in offensive efficiency at 45%, and 22nd in three-point effeciency.

The Lakers, however, have the 6th best offense in the NBA producing 103.4 points per game, 12th in field goal efficiency at 46%, 17th in three-pointers at 35%. They also happen to be the 8th best defensive team allowing 96.8 points per game, 2nd in field goal defense at 44%, 1st in three-point defense at 31%, and 11th in forcing turnovers at 13.8 per outing.

But all the stats in the world mean nothing if the Lakers can’t get pass the Bobcats again.

The keys for the Lakers tonight are play smart and aggressive on offense, rebound, take care of the ball, and protect the three-point line. Charlotte is full of perimeter shooters and centers that only play defense.

In fact, Gerald Wallace is their best post-player at 6′ 7″ and 220 lbs. But going up against Ron Artest I don’t think he’ll be spending much time operating from the paint. That said, Artest needs to be sharp against him on defense because of his athleticism and to go right at him on offense.

Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum need to demand the ball a little more tonight. The Bobcat big men may be shot blockers, but they’re both too good offensively to be stopped as much as Charlotte needs to.

It’s also important for the Lakers to not lose their attention and energy. They’re home now, so there’s no excuses for them to come out like their alarm clocks ran out of batteries in the middle of the night. They have to stay alert and willing to do whatever it takes to put away the Bobcats.

If the Lakers play with intention as a team while forcing Charlotte to beat them from the inside, the defending champs should win their first against this ballclub since Feb. 11, 2008. If the Lakers do snap their skid against the Bobcats, that just might help them with their mindset in trying to break a much longer losing streak up in Portland on Friday.

You never know.

Tip-off is at 7:30.  TV: FoxSports West  Radio: 710/1330 AM ESPN

GO LAKERS!!!

Preview: Bobcats vs. Lakers

The 7th best team in the east comes to Staples Center to see if they still have what it takes to defeat the defending champs in their first meeting of the season. The Charlotte Bobcats (24-23) has had the Lakers’ (37-12) number for the past 3 seasons owning a 7-1 record that spans since the 2005-06 season. That may not sound right to some Laker fans, but it is I’m afraid. The Bobcats just seem to have it almost each time they face the purple and gold.

The Lakers are back home for the first time in 2 weeks and are looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss against Memphis Monday night. Still, the Lakers ended an 8-game road trip with a winning record of 5-3. Not too good but not too bad either. Tonight, they’ll try to make it 8 in a row at their own building where they still have the best record in the entire league at 23-3.


Kobe Bryant became the Lakers’ all-time leading scorer after surpassing Jerry West as the NBA’s 14th leading scorer in history Monday night. He averages 34.1 points against the Bobcats in 9 meetings (including scoring 38 points the last time Charlotte was in town), but I have a feeling he’ll be involving his teammates more this time around now that he has achieved his recent career milestone.

Speaking of milestones, Phil Jackson can pass Pat Riley as the Lakers’ winningest coach with a win tonight at 534.

Charlotte acquired veteran 3-point specialist Stephen Jackson and Acie Law from Golden State for Raja Bell and Vlade Radmanovic. On paper, the move is for the Bobcats to acquire a more consistent perimeter shooter in Jackson in exchange for one expiring contract (Bell) and one bad contract (Radmanovic) to be sent to the Warriors. But most people think Jackson was sent to the Bobcats to prevent him from coming to a championship contender in Cleveland, Jackson’s preferred destination. I wouldn’t doubt it if that were true.

Jackson is leading Charlotte in scoring with a 21.2 average and 1.9 steals per game.

The biggest reason why the Bobcats are so successful against the Lakers is because of their defense. They have the best one right now in the league only allowing 93.8 point per game. They’re also 6th in field goal percentage defense and 3rd in three-point percentage defense. But the flip side is they’re 23rd in offensive ouput at 95.2 PPG, 20th in offensive efficiency at 45%, and 22nd in three-point effeciency.

The Lakers, however, have the 6th best offense in the NBA producing 103.4 points per game, 12th in field goal efficiency at 46%, 17th in three-pointers at 35%. They also happen to be the 8th best defensive team allowing 96.8 points per game, 2nd in field goal defense at 44%, 1st in three-point defense at 31%, and 11th in forcing turnovers at 13.8 per outing.

But all the stats in the world mean nothing if the Lakers can’t get pass the Bobcats again.

The keys for the Lakers tonight are play smart and aggressive on offense, rebound, take care of the ball, and protect the three-point line. Charlotte is full of perimeter shooters and centers that only play defense.

In fact, Gerald Wallace is their best post-player at 6′ 7″ and 220 lbs. But going up against Ron Artest I don’t think he’ll be spending much time operating from the paint. That said, Artest needs to be sharp against him on defense because of his athleticism and to go right at him on offense.

Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum need to demand the ball a little more tonight. The Bobcat big men may be shot blockers, but they’re both too good offensively to be stopped as much as Charlotte needs to.

It’s also important for the Lakers to not lose their attention and energy. They’re home now, so there’s no excuses for them to come out like their alarm clocks ran out of batteries in the middle of the night. They have to stay alert and willing to do whatever it takes to put away the Bobcats.

If the Lakers play with intention as a team while forcing Charlotte to beat them from the inside, the defending champs should win their first against this ballclub since Feb. 11, 2008. If the Lakers do snap their skid against the Bobcats, that just might help them with their mindset in trying to break a much longer losing streak up in Portland on Friday.

You never know.

Tip-off is at 7:30.  TV: FoxSports West  Radio: 710/1330 AM ESPN

GO LAKERS!!!

Quantcast