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Preview: Lakers vs. Clippers

After 31 games, the Lakers (15-16) are still suffering through the same struggles they've been having the entire season. They looked to have answered a lot of their problems after posting their season-best streak of 6 wins to end the month of December, but they came crashing right back down with one of their most pitiful games against the 76ers at Staples Center.

Kobe Bryant sees the team's collective age as their biggest challenge to adjust to while Steve Nash can't help but feel that time is starting to be a factor in terms of their overall improvement while winning enough games to qualify for a playoff spot this year.

But it's really no secret that the Lakers are finding a tough time getting over the hump because they're allowing their situation with having a new coach, a new system and their health dictate the way they give their effort and play the game. In other words, they're more willing to give excuses rather than doing something about their poor performance as a team.

And if they come out flat and unprepared against the Clippers (25-8) tonight, there's very little room for imagination how the game will turn out for the Lakers.

Even if the Clippers are coming off of a 17-game slump, they always give their best against their big brother. The trouble for the Lakers is this team arguably has the best bench in the NBA, especially given the experience and type of players they have in their 2nd unit. But more importantly, the Clippers understand their roles and play for one another. That's certainly something that can be said about the purple and gold right now.

Whether the Lakers like it or not, they will have to decide starting tonight how they want the rest of the season shape up for them. That's because the rest of their schedule, particularly in January, is the toughest stretch of the season for them. That's a bit alarming considering their currently at 15-16. They will need to win a considerable amount of games this month alone just to catchup with the rest of the Western Conference.

A win against the Clippers could very well be what they need to push them.

Matchup of the Game

Steve Nash vs. Chris Paul: Two of the best point guards will go at it tonight. It's a monumental challenge for Nash to find the perfect balance of running the offense for his team while finding the right time to score against a player that can do the same exact things he can do out on the floor. Should be an entertaining matchup!

Keys to the Game

> Come Out With Purpose: The first 5 minutes of the game will tell how the final 43 minutes will turn out for the Lakers. If they don't have that bounce in their step, they might as well not come out for the 2nd half.

> DEFENSE!: With everyone back for the Lakers, make no mistake, the Clippers will throw everything at them tonight. But they have to defend as a team and can't rely on Dwight Howard to bail them out.

> Control CP3: As deep and as good the Clippers are playing right now, their success still relies on Chris Paul. The Lakers must not allow CP3 do whatever he wants on the floor and cannot let him dictate tempo of the game.

Game Info

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

Injury Note

LAKERS: Chris Duhon (back spams) is game-time decision. Steve Blake (abdomen) is out until at least end of month.

CLIPPERS: Chancey Billlups (foot), Grant Hill (knee) and Trey Thompkins (knee) are all out.
 

Preview: Lakers vs. Clippers

Apr. 14, 2010 - Los Angeles, California, U.S. - The Lakers' Pau Gasol drives around the Clippers' Chris Kaman in the second Half Wednesday.

Don’t laugh Laker fans. Tonight may be a “road game” for the Lakers (15-6) against their cross-locker room “rival”, but the Clippers (5-17) have won all of their five games at home against the likes of Oklahoma City, New Orleans and San Antonio. These two teams split last season winning at home with the Clips losing Blake Griffin to a season-ending surgery to repair his broken kneecap after their first matchup.

In his first and only game against the Lakers in pre-season of last year, he had a double-double of 13 points and 12 rebounds but also had the highlight of the game when he posterized DJ Mbenga with a nasty tomahawk dunk. Griffin is currently averaging 20.2 PPG (at 51.8%) and team-leading 11.8 RPG in 36 minutes per game. The guy is a true monster in the paint, so no doubt the Lakers got their hands full tonight.

If that’s not enough, they will also have to deal with scoring-machine Eric Gordon who continues to improve each season on both ends of the floor. He leads the Clippers with his 24.3 PPG. Gordon may be undersized for his position, but he’s got enough speed, hops and one of the quicker releases in the league to give any defender fits.

The Clippers have the worst overall record and the second-worst home record (5-7) in the NBA but have won 4 of their last 10 games after starting the season at 1-13. They’re putting up 97.3 PPG (22nd), allowing 103.5 PPG (23rd) but are 10th in the league in rebounding with a 42.1 RPG average.

Meanwhile, the Lakers are entering their second game of a back-to-back after almost giving one up to Washington last night at Staples Center. They’re still sitting the #2 team in points (108.8 PPG) and in rebounds (44.9 RPG) and also #17 in defense giving up 100 points per game.

Despite their long history of woes, the Clippers really get up for their games against the Lakers. So, this is by no means a guaranteed easy game for the purple and gold.

Both teams will be without their starting center. Andrew Bynum is still recuperating with his knee injury for the Lakers while the Clips’ Chris Kaman is out with a re-injured ankle. Baron Davis might also miss tonight’s game with a hamstring injury but will be a game-time decision.

The Lakers are 5-4 on the road and have 6 of the last 8 meetings between these two teams. The Clippers are currently 5-7 at home.

GO LAKERS!!!

TP&G Blog’s Matchup of the Game

Lamar Odom vs. Blake Griffin: Two guys posting almost similar numbers per game in points and rebounding will go toe-to-toe against one another. Blake has the advantage in strength and athleticism, but Lamar has his length, ball-handling and outside shooting against Blake.

Keys for the Lakers

Offense

1. Inside-Out Attack: The Clippers are the 4th worst team in the NBA in defensive efficiency giving up 1.08 points per possession, but their interior defense is giving up less points than the Lakers at 38.1 PPG. They held Tim Duncan to just 8 points on 2-of-8 shooting, so the Lakers need to involve other guys to score in the paint.
2. 3-Point Shooting: The Clips are dead last in 3-point defense allowing 25 PPG from behind the arc. With no Kaman to put on Gasol, the Lakers should get some open looks from distance.
3. Ball Movement: Expect an energetic, swarming Clipper defense. The Lakers can’t afford to keep the ball in one area of the halfcourt for too long or they’ll find themselves in early trouble.

Defense

1. Contain Gordon: The Clippers are just 1-10 when Gordon scores no more than his season average eventhough his career point average against the Lakers is only 14 points. Eric loves going up against Kobe Bryant, so there’s no reason to anticipate him being quiet tonight.
2. Contain Blake: Stopping Blake is like trying to stop a freight train. Depending on foul issues, Lamar will get the bulk of the minutes defending him. The Lakers must make him a jumpshooter and a passer when he gets a deep post position right away.
3. Focus: Yup, it’s that word again. The Lakers just can’t relax defensively against the Clippers. They’re tougher than they look.

Game Info

Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. (PST).  TV: KCAL-9 (Los Angeles)  Radio: 710/1330 AM ESPN

Preview: Lakers vs. Clippers

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Los Angeles Clippers

The sudden resurgence at home is making cross-hall rivals Los Angeles Clippers (15-18) confident about beating the Lakers (28-6) because of the improved play of center Chris Kaman who leads all centers in scoring with a 20.3 PPG, 12th in rebounds, and 17th in blocks. Kaman is a lot like Andrew Bynum who can score on either side of the post and has a serviceable 10-12 ft. jumper.

But the Clippers agree that the only way of defeating the Lakers is with good defense and hard work. The Clips have won 2 in a row and are 4-1 their last 5 games, including wins against Boston and Portland at Staples Center. They are 10-8 at home coming into the game.

The problem for them though is the Lakers happen to play on the same floor for their home games and have the best home (20-3) and road record (8-3) in the league. Plus, they have more fans cheering for them than the Clips.

The Lakers are looking for their 5th straight win and 10th straight against the Clippers since losing to them 118-110 on April 12, 2007. As the road team, the Lakers have won by an average of 23.7 points.

However, the Lakers won’t have Pau Gasol again who is nursing a mild strain on his left hamstring and have Kobe Bryant who suddenly is dealing with an elevated pain on his injured right index finger since last night’s game against the Rockets. Kobe was using his left hand a lot last night resulting in a woeful 9 of 23 shooting, but I don’t think he’ll have the same struggles tonight. The guy is just uncanny when it comes to adjusting his game when dealing with injuries or pain.

The Clippers have one of the lowest-scoring offense in the league at 96 points per game and are 16th on defense allowing 98.6 per outing. Their 3-point percentage and rebounding are two of the worst at 33% from behind the arc and pulling down just 40.9 boards per contest. But they’re the 7th best in assists with 22.3 APG and tops in blocks at 6.2 BPG.

Meanwhile, the Lakers have climbed up to the 4th spot on offense making 104.4 points per game and 10th on defense allowing 96.7 points per. Plus, they have the most efficient defense in the league allowing just 34% from the field and 31% from the behind the three-point line. They’re tops in rebounds (53.6 RPG), 4th in assists (22.9 APG), 11th in blocks (5.3), and 5th in the league in steals at 7.9 per game.

But if the Lakers are to beat the Clippers tonight, they will have to take care of the ball, rebound well, and defend Kaman. Bynum usually does a good job with him on both baskets, But without Pau, look for Kaman to try to lure Andrew out of the paint by making jumpshots and get him in foul trouble with pump fakes and up-and-unders. So Bynum will have to play smart but aggressive defense tonight.

Lamar Odom will also have to have a good offensive production on top of another solid rebounding effort. If he’s not aggressive on offense, Marcus Camby will have more reasons to double Bynum in the post and clog up the paint for Kobe, Jordan Farmar, Shannon Brown, and Ron Artest.

Both Camby and Kaman are good shot-blockers so the Lakers should try to get either one (preferably Kaman) in foul trouble early with strong drives to the basket. But the guy the Lakers should pay attention to is Craig Smith. Smith has wreak havoc on the Lakers with his rebounding on both ends of the floor. So whatever frontcourt combination out on the floor for the Lakers will have to remember to put a body on him at all times. Make him push to get the rebound.

Speaking of Ron, the Lakers expect him to have a better game tonight after forcing the issue on offense a bit too much last night without much success. He will have to help out in the paint on defense and on offense, especially if Kobe’s finger causes him to have another bad shooting night.

Kobe scored 33 points on opening night against the Clips. Will he do that again tonight, or better yet will the Lakers need him to do that again tonight? We shall see. Bryant is only 355 points away from tying “Mr. Clutch” Jerry West for the all-time scoring record in the NBA.

Perimeter-wise, the Clippers have Baron Davis, Eric Gordon, and Rasual Butler to deal with. Davis had his worse game of the season against the Lakers on opening night with only 2 points on 1 of 10 shooting. Most likely, he’ll look to shoot tonight so that will bode well for the Lakers because every shot he takes prevents any of his teammates from scoring. Of the three, Gordon is the most dangerous because he’s always a fearless scorer from anywhere on the court.

This is the second of four meetings of the season between the two teams with another on the 15th as the Lakers being the home team. The Clippers are looking for their first 5-game winning streak at home since the 2006-07 season, but the Lakers have swept them the last two seasons.

GO LAKERS!!!

Preview: Lakers vs. Clippers

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Los Angeles Clippers

The sudden resurgence at home is making cross-hall rivals Los Angeles Clippers (15-18) confident about beating the Lakers (28-6) because of the improved play of center Chris Kaman who leads all centers in scoring with a 20.3 PPG, 12th in rebounds, and 17th in blocks. Kaman is a lot like Andrew Bynum who can score on either side of the post and has a serviceable 10-12 ft. jumper.

But the Clippers agree that the only way of defeating the Lakers is with good defense and hard work. The Clips have won 2 in a row and are 4-1 their last 5 games, including wins against Boston and Portland at Staples Center. They are 10-8 at home coming into the game.

The problem for them though is the Lakers happen to play on the same floor for their home games and have the best home (20-3) and road record (8-3) in the league. Plus, they have more fans cheering for them than the Clips.

The Lakers are looking for their 5th straight win and 10th straight against the Clippers since losing to them 118-110 on April 12, 2007. As the road team, the Lakers have won by an average of 23.7 points.

However, the Lakers won’t have Pau Gasol again who is nursing a mild strain on his left hamstring and have Kobe Bryant who suddenly is dealing with an elevated pain on his injured right index finger since last night’s game against the Rockets. Kobe was using his left hand a lot last night resulting in a woeful 9 of 23 shooting, but I don’t think he’ll have the same struggles tonight. The guy is just uncanny when it comes to adjusting his game when dealing with injuries or pain.

The Clippers have one of the lowest-scoring offense in the league at 96 points per game and are 16th on defense allowing 98.6 per outing. Their 3-point percentage and rebounding are two of the worst at 33% from behind the arc and pulling down just 40.9 boards per contest. But they’re the 7th best in assists with 22.3 APG and tops in blocks at 6.2 BPG.

Meanwhile, the Lakers have climbed up to the 4th spot on offense making 104.4 points per game and 10th on defense allowing 96.7 points per. Plus, they have the most efficient defense in the league allowing just 34% from the field and 31% from the behind the three-point line. They’re tops in rebounds (53.6 RPG), 4th in assists (22.9 APG), 11th in blocks (5.3), and 5th in the league in steals at 7.9 per game.

But if the Lakers are to beat the Clippers tonight, they will have to take care of the ball, rebound well, and defend Kaman. Bynum usually does a good job with him on both baskets, But without Pau, look for Kaman to try to lure Andrew out of the paint by making jumpshots and get him in foul trouble with pump fakes and up-and-unders. So Bynum will have to play smart but aggressive defense tonight.

Lamar Odom will also have to have a good offensive production on top of another solid rebounding effort. If he’s not aggressive on offense, Marcus Camby will have more reasons to double Bynum in the post and clog up the paint for Kobe, Jordan Farmar, Shannon Brown, and Ron Artest.

Both Camby and Kaman are good shot-blockers so the Lakers should try to get either one (preferably Kaman) in foul trouble early with strong drives to the basket. But the guy the Lakers should pay attention to is Craig Smith. Smith has wreak havoc on the Lakers with his rebounding on both ends of the floor. So whatever frontcourt combination out on the floor for the Lakers will have to remember to put a body on him at all times. Make him push to get the rebound.

Speaking of Ron, the Lakers expect him to have a better game tonight after forcing the issue on offense a bit too much last night without much success. He will have to help out in the paint on defense and on offense, especially if Kobe’s finger causes him to have another bad shooting night.

Kobe scored 33 points on opening night against the Clips. Will he do that again tonight, or better yet will the Lakers need him to do that again tonight? We shall see. Bryant is only 355 points away from tying “Mr. Clutch” Jerry West for the all-time scoring record in the NBA.

Perimeter-wise, the Clippers have Baron Davis, Eric Gordon, and Rasual Butler to deal with. Davis had his worse game of the season against the Lakers on opening night with only 2 points on 1 of 10 shooting. Most likely, he’ll look to shoot tonight so that will bode well for the Lakers because every shot he takes prevents any of his teammates from scoring. Of the three, Gordon is the most dangerous because he’s always a fearless scorer from anywhere on the court.

This is the second of four meetings of the season between the two teams with another on the 15th as the Lakers being the home team. The Clippers are looking for their first 5-game winning streak at home since the 2006-07 season, but the Lakers have swept them the last two seasons.

GO LAKERS!!!

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