LakersSpurs010913PR

Preview: Lakers vs. Spurs

After their loss to the Hornets on Monday, Manu Ginobili was gracious enough to say that his San Antonio Spurs (27-10) must play better against the Lakers (15-19), a team, he says, "got heart" and "play hard", in order for them to keep their 10-game winning streak at home alive. Not sure which Lakers team and what season he's pertaining to, but it's good to hear teams still fear the purple and gold.

All kidding aside, Ginobili was doing what he's supposed to do as a sportsman and a leader of his team. The Lakers and us Laker fans don't need any reminder that every team in the NBA almost always bring their A-game when the Lakers come to town or just how pathetic our team has been playing so far this season. But the fact remains that the Lakers must now win at least 30 of their remaining 48 games to qualify for a post-season run. With Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill out for who knows how long, that is going to be a task for the ages for this franchise.

After starting the game with bounce in their steps last night in Houston, the Lakers couldn't sustain their energy and team focus the rest of the way to earn themselves a win that could've injected a spark that they'll be alright without their bigs. But looking at the positives in that game, the younger, less-utilized players showed that they care about winning and willing to do whatever they can to help the team win. The team also, at least, had the concertive focus that they needed to come out swinging from the get-go in order for them to have the chance to get the victory. They have to do that again tonight.

The Lakers and Spurs are familiar rivals who have won titles more than any other team in the league in the past 12 years, and Gregg Popovich and Mike D'Antoni have gone at one another in the playoffs before. So, there's really nothing cute needed in this matchup other than whichever team can grind it out more than the other.

If the Lakers are to win this game and hope to keep above water until they get their starting frontcourt back, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash must elevate their game even more. Bryant has done an incredible job at keeping his body and conditioning at top level because he has learned over the course of his 17-year career how to maintain his energy by picking his time to play defense. That is why you often see him communicate to his teammates by pointing at his man for anyone to cover him and get caught not guarding his man behind the 3-point line because he doesn't want to spend energy shadowing his man.

It's a catch-22 for Kobe. Should he waste energy on defense early and not have it late in the game or should he sacrifice his D so that he'll have the legs to close out the game offensively? At this point, he may have to do both.

Nash did look to score more against the Rocket last night getting a season-high 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field. But having Bryant as the only other player the team can rely on in putting up points, Steve may have to eat some of his assists to shoot more tonight.

The bottom line is the Lakers need to lean on their best talent available to carry them more than ever while the entire team bring the energy and effort necessary for them to win games. It won't be easy, especially when the rest of the league salivate at the chance of kicking the Lakers while they're down. The alarm has gone off inside for the Lakers. Right now, it's just a question of how much fight they have left in them.

The Lakers are 5-10 on the road and 2-3 away from Staples Center in their last 5 games. The Spurs are 14-2 at the AT&T Center and have taken 3 of the last 5 meetings in their building against the Lakers. This is the 2nd of only 3 meetings between these teams and won't see each other again until April 14th at Staples Center. The Lakers lost last year's season series, 2-1.

Matchup of the Game

Steve Nash vs. Tony Parker: Savvy vs. Speed. These guys have faced each other too many times to know there's really nothing else to do but bring it. Parker obviously has a number of advantages going for him but let's see if Nash can bring his bag of tricks to pull this matchup closer for the Lakers.

Keys for the Game

> Maintain Energy: The Lakers will most likely come out swinging again tonight despite being the 2nd game of a back-to-back. They have to bottle that energy each passing quarter if they want a chance at an upset.

> DEFENSE!: This is going to be a permanent key for the Lakers until they can prove they're a team to be reckoned with each game in this department. And just to put it out there, the Spurs are 3rd in the league in scoring (104.9 per game).

> Prove It: The embarassment in losing in Darius Morris's voice in his post-game interview say that even the young and less-utilized players are sick of being walked on by every team in the league. But as they say, talk is cheap.

Game Info

Tonight @ San Antonio Spurs
Tip-off: 5:00 p.m. (PST)
AT&T Center
TV: TWC SportsNet (Southern California)/ESPN (national)
Radio: 710 AM ESPN/1330 KWKW

Injury Notes

LAKERS: Steve Blake (abdomen), Pau Gasol (concussion), Jordan Hill (right hip) and Dwight Howard (right shoulder) are all out.

SPURS: None.
 

Preview: Lakers vs. Spurs

Texas News - January 14, 2009

Here it is Laker fans. The start of a string of road games for the purple and gold this month. And what better way to (hopefully) wake the Lakers (29-8) up than their first meeting with an old foe the San Antonio Spurs (22-13). Even with some new faces in their roster, the Spurs haven’t changed much.

They still have a solid defense and no one employs their coach’s offensive system and philosophies better than they do. But more importantly, the heart and soul of the team Manu Ginobili is healthy. Well, at least for now.

Much like Boston, the Spurs are a team that shouldn’t be toyed around with because they believe in themselves and have the talent and experience to get by any team in this league, including the defending champs. But as always, an explosive scoring team that can exploit their lack of speed and young legs give them troubles. The problem is the Lakers haven’t been that team since they put together a series of victories earlier this season.

In all cases, this game should be a dandy. We have the two teams everyone expects to see each other in this year’s Western Conference Finals, and I wouldn’t doubt it either. Pau Gasol will travel with the team, but will be missing his fifth and sixth game tonight and tomorrow against the Mavericks. Will the Lakers allow his unavailability factor in with how they’re going to play tonight and tomorrow? They shouldn’t, and I don’t think it will.

This is their first real chance at redeeming themselves for their ditching of that Cleveland game and to tell us Laker fans to worry no more. In the meantime, the Spurs are gauging themselves against the Lakers and will surely give their confidence a boost if they come out as victors.

Kobe Bryant is said to be going back to using the flexible splint on his injured shooting finger. He has been playing with a finger casing that highly limited the range of his shooting the past few games to expedite the healing of his finger. I guess that will have to wait because the Lakers are struggling in the field without his offensive production.

Both Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom have to work extra hard tonight at both ends of the floor without Gasol in there. They have to limit the rebounding and good looks at the rim for Tim Duncan (averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds) and anybody who wanders into the paint. Ron Artest has to save his energy on defense to try to contain new Spur Richard Jefferson (averaging 13.2 points).

But the Lakers will have plenty of bodies to worry about outside the usual starters for the Spurs. Guys like Roger Mason (a headache in the perimeter), rookie center Ian Mahinmi (has a 15 PPG and 9 RPG average), rookie guard George Hill, and veteran Antonio McDyess are all more than capable of putting their mark in the game if the Lakers allow them. However, the one guy they have to make sure to not get any rhythm going is Ginobili because if he does we all know how his production can carry the Spurs.

So Kobe has more than his shooting to think about tonight. He has to work as hard on the defensive end against Manu and anybody else he gets his hands on. Derek Fisher will also have to be sharp going up against Parker. He can’t allow Parker to do whatever he wants on the offensive end, but I also would like to see Fish be a little aggressive on offense just to make Tony work on that end also.

The keys for the Lakers tonight is stick with the Triangle and play aggressive but smart defense. The Spurs are a different beast because they have way too much experience and have the second best coach in the league to get easily rattled or dejected by anything the Lakers are able to do against them.

If the Laker bench could also transfer the pep in their steps from the Bucks game into this one, that will certainly put more pressure on the Spurs and give the Lakers more ammo to throw at San Antonio.

The Spurs are 16-6 at home and have won 7 of their last 10 games. They’re coming off of a 12-point win against the Nets (but who hasn’t beaten New Jersey) after losing a tough one against Dallas at the AT&T Center 112-103. The Lakers are 8-5 on the road but have lost 4 of their last 10 games. Then again, rankings and overall records mean nothing between these two teams because they both want one thing at the end of the season — the championship.

Hopefully when the dust settles, we’ll see the Lakers standing.

Tip-off is at 5:30. TV: KCAL-9  Radio: 710/1330 AM ESPN

GO LAKERS!!!

Preview: Lakers vs. Spurs

Texas News - January 14, 2009

Here it is Laker fans. The start of a string of road games for the purple and gold this month. And what better way to (hopefully) wake the Lakers (29-8) up than their first meeting with an old foe the San Antonio Spurs (22-13). Even with some new faces in their roster, the Spurs haven’t changed much.

They still have a solid defense and no one employs their coach’s offensive system and philosophies better than they do. But more importantly, the heart and soul of the team Manu Ginobili is healthy. Well, at least for now.

Much like Boston, the Spurs are a team that shouldn’t be toyed around with because they believe in themselves and have the talent and experience to get by any team in this league, including the defending champs. But as always, an explosive scoring team that can exploit their lack of speed and young legs give them troubles. The problem is the Lakers haven’t been that team since they put together a series of victories earlier this season.

In all cases, this game should be a dandy. We have the two teams everyone expects to see each other in this year’s Western Conference Finals, and I wouldn’t doubt it either. Pau Gasol will travel with the team, but will be missing his fifth and sixth game tonight and tomorrow against the Mavericks. Will the Lakers allow his unavailability factor in with how they’re going to play tonight and tomorrow? They shouldn’t, and I don’t think it will.

This is their first real chance at redeeming themselves for their ditching of that Cleveland game and to tell us Laker fans to worry no more. In the meantime, the Spurs are gauging themselves against the Lakers and will surely give their confidence a boost if they come out as victors.

Kobe Bryant is said to be going back to using the flexible splint on his injured shooting finger. He has been playing with a finger casing that highly limited the range of his shooting the past few games to expedite the healing of his finger. I guess that will have to wait because the Lakers are struggling in the field without his offensive production.

Both Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom have to work extra hard tonight at both ends of the floor without Gasol in there. They have to limit the rebounding and good looks at the rim for Tim Duncan (averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds) and anybody who wanders into the paint. Ron Artest has to save his energy on defense to try to contain new Spur Richard Jefferson (averaging 13.2 points).

But the Lakers will have plenty of bodies to worry about outside the usual starters for the Spurs. Guys like Roger Mason (a headache in the perimeter), rookie center Ian Mahinmi (has a 15 PPG and 9 RPG average), rookie guard George Hill, and veteran Antonio McDyess are all more than capable of putting their mark in the game if the Lakers allow them. However, the one guy they have to make sure to not get any rhythm going is Ginobili because if he does we all know how his production can carry the Spurs.

So Kobe has more than his shooting to think about tonight. He has to work as hard on the defensive end against Manu and anybody else he gets his hands on. Derek Fisher will also have to be sharp going up against Parker. He can’t allow Parker to do whatever he wants on the offensive end, but I also would like to see Fish be a little aggressive on offense just to make Tony work on that end also.

The keys for the Lakers tonight is stick with the Triangle and play aggressive but smart defense. The Spurs are a different beast because they have way too much experience and have the second best coach in the league to get easily rattled or dejected by anything the Lakers are able to do against them.

If the Laker bench could also transfer the pep in their steps from the Bucks game into this one, that will certainly put more pressure on the Spurs and give the Lakers more ammo to throw at San Antonio.

The Spurs are 16-6 at home and have won 7 of their last 10 games. They’re coming off of a 12-point win against the Nets (but who hasn’t beaten New Jersey) after losing a tough one against Dallas at the AT&T Center 112-103. The Lakers are 8-5 on the road but have lost 4 of their last 10 games. Then again, rankings and overall records mean nothing between these two teams because they both want one thing at the end of the season — the championship.

Hopefully when the dust settles, we’ll see the Lakers standing.

Tip-off is at 5:30. TV: KCAL-9  Radio: 710/1330 AM ESPN

GO LAKERS!!!

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