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Preview: Lakers vs. Warriors

The loss against Phoenix had plenty of cute excuses that were taken out of the box long before the game ended. The loss at Staples Center on Friday versus the Wizards, one of the most atrocious teams in the NBA, absolutely had no reason or rhyme why it happened — not even to a Lakers (36-34) team that embodies such an enigmatic personality.

After watching his team allow Washington eat up an 18-point lead enroute to a 103-100 frustration, Mike D'Antoni did not hold any punches aimed at his team and even called their team huddle go-cheer of 'championship' "laughable" during his post-game interview slash rant. The rollercoasting stamina in effort and focus has been a season-long theme for the Lakers, but there comes a time during the season when the team has to take it upon themselves to demand better of themselves if they are truly serious about winning that championship.

They can start tonight against one of the teams they're hoping to chasedown above them in the standings.

The Golden State Warriors (40-31) had picked themselves up a bit after starting the 2nd half of the season 3-10. Since then, they have won 7 of their last 11.

The Warriors can be impressive on defense at times, but they are a team that generally look to outscore their opponent. No other team in the league fits the mold of a perimeter team better than Golden State — perhaps, the very reason why they have yet to defeat the Lakers this season.

Despite having Andrew Bogut and David Lee in the post, the Warriors rely heavily on their ability to shoot the basket from distance and shoot they can. Golden State is tops in 3-pt. field goal efficiency at 40.2% per game. That has a lot to do with the league's best 3-pt. shooter Stephen Curry.

Curry has made 224 of his 489 attempts (45.8%) from another county naturally making him his team's leading scorer at 22.4 points per outing. But his talents don't stop there, Curry is also getting team-high 6.6 assists and 1.6 steals a game for them. He may be a key focus for the Lakers tonight, but he's certainly not the only problem.

If not for Kobe Bryant's 34-point barrage, the Lakers probably would have dropped their previous meeting with the Warriors at the ORACLE Arena. In that game, Jarrett Jack had a monster of a night coming off the bench with his 29 points and 11 assists. He made 13 of his 19 attempts because the Lakers could not find anyone to defend him until Kobe took on the challenge in the 4th quarter.

Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes round off the immediate concerns for the Lakers. Thompson is averaging 16.5 points on a 37.5% clip against the Lakers this season while Barnes is getting 10 points on a 42.9% efficiency. Both guys are sharpshooters who are athletic enough to take it to the rim as well. If the Lakers happen to slow down both Curry and Jack, Thompson and Barnes could very well take over the offense for Golden State.

Including tonight, there are 12 games left for the Lakers on their schedule. While keeping a spot in the playoffs is certainly a goal for them, it's also a pressing issue for the Lakers to start preparing for the playoffs mentally.

The Lakers may be built for the playoffs, as some people like to call them, but they are fooling themselves if they think that whatever they don't fix now will not bite them against any team they face in the playoffs.

This is the 3rd of 4 meetings against the Warriors this season. The Lakers are looking to take the season series with their 3rd-straight win over this team tonight. L.A. has won the last 6 games over Golden State and has not lost at the ORACLE Arena since April 6, 2011.

INJURY UPDATE — Antawn Jamison: According to Lakers.comAntawn Jamison will give it a go tonight after spraining his shooting wrist on a dunk attempt against the Wizards. Jamison says his wrist is still sore but not enough to keep him out of action and as long as the pain doesn't become too unbearable.

Matchup of the Game

Steve Nash vs. Stephen Curry: Nash has played against Curry just once this season but his 12-point, 9-assist performance was enough to help hand the Warriors their 2nd loss against the Lakers. Nash had an easy time dissecting the Warrior defense in the 4th quarter the previous game. If the same happens tonight, the Lakers should get another W. But if Curry gets hot on those pick-and-rolls, watch out!

Keys to the Game

> Mental Approach: The Lakers have fooled around enough the past 2 games. It's time to get back to business and come out of the locker room with a conscious, collective intent to put on a complete game tonight.

> Defense: If the Lakers allow the Warriors to get too many open shots, they will likely be down big before halftime. They have to put on a physical, hard-nosed defensive effort that will challenge shots and crowd the paint if they want to put away this team quickly.

> Turnovers: Their 20 turnovers in this building back in December nearly prevented them from coming back to win the game. They may not be so lucky again tonight if they continue with their lazy passes and bonehead decisions on offense.

Watch Out For

LAKERS: Metta World Peace: MWP is going to be one of those key guys for the Lakers in this matchup. Not only is his defense important to deal with the hottest hand the Warriors may have, but Metta's offense to knock down those open 3-pointers could prove to be the difference tonight. MWP is averaging 15 points, 6 rebounds and 1.5 steals against the Warriors this season.

WARRIORS: Carl Landry: The Lakers should be very familiar with what Landry can bring to the table. His energy, activity on the glass and ability to convert those mid-range jumpers seem to be a steady nuisance for the Lakers. Landry averages 9 points and 8 boards versus the Lakers this year.

Game Info

Tonight
@ Golden State Warriors
Tip-off: 7:30 p.m. (PST)
ORACLE Arena
TV: TWC SportsNet (Southern California)
Radio: 710 AM ESPN/1330 KWKW

Injury Notes

LAKERS: Jordan Hill (hip) is out. Antawn Jamison (wrist) is day-to-day.

WARRIORS: Stephen Curry (ankle) is listed as questionnable but will play tonight. Brandon Rush (knee) is out.

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Preview: Lakers vs. Warriors

For the second time this season, the Lakers (12-14) are shooting for their 4th win in a row and 3rd straight on the road. They will have to get it against one of the most improved teams in the leauge, the Golden State Warriors (18-9), the team that happens to be sitting in front of the purple and gold for the 2nd spot in the Pacific Division.

The Warriors are playing better team basketball on both ends of the court under 2nd-year head coach Mark Jackson. Last year, they averaged 97.8 points per game while allowing 101.2 from their opponents. This season, however, they are putting up 101.3 points and giving up 99.6 points per outing. They are 8-2 in their last 10 games and 4-1 in their last 5 games at the ORACLE Arena.

Much of their offensive success comes from their starting backcourt. Stephen Curry is averaging 20.2 points and 6.4 assists per game this season while teammate Klay Thompson is getting 15.8 points shooting at 45.3% efficiency the last 10 games.

But what makes the Warriors a dangerous opponent for the Lakers is they have plenty of guys who crash the boards and are filled with shooters in every position, Combine that with their willingness to share the ball and play hard on defense, and you can see why they're enjoying so much wins this early in the season.

Meanwhile, the Lakers are starting to emerge from their dire need to have consistency in the way they play defense and maintaining their energy the entire 48 minutes. A lot of that has to do with their supporting roles stepping up their game.

Metta World Peace continues to be an indispensible asset on both sides of the floor while Darius Morris is becoming to be a pest for the other team on the defensive end. But Jodie Meeks has caught the eye of Mike D'Antoni as the one who deserve to be in the starting lineup in place of MWP.

Meeks is often seen giving his all on the defensive end and seems to have understood that his hustle and activity on the floor can be more infectious to the team than his ability to shoot the 3. But D'Antoni continues to experiment with his lineup preferring quicker perimeter players over post-players.

Jordan Hill and Antawn Jamison have now seen their playing time drastically reduced. That hasn't exactly been a popular decision by D'Antoni among Laker fans mainly because Hill has proven that his energy and hard work around the glass is what the team needs more of. And while Jamison is currently struggling with his shooting, he only needs more playing time to get back to becoming a force on offense.

Give credit to D'Antoni for having the guts to make brow-raising changes for the good of winning. But at the end of the day, every decision he makes affects how the Lakers play down the road for better or worse. He still has time right now to try what works and what doesn't. But he has to understand that whatever answers he comes up with better pass the final exam when it's all said and done.

Matchup of the Game

Jodie Meeks vs. Klay Thompson: Two shooters will go at it tonight but Thompson will have the benefit of the doubt that he has the edge in this matchup until Meeks says otherwise. While Meeks has the foot speed advantage, Thompson has the size to shoot over him. Meeks can attack the rim but so can Klay. And it's possible that we'll him post-up on Jodie a few times during the game. This will increase the importance of Meeks making his open shots.

Keys to the Game

> Defense: The Warriors is still isn't a team known for their post-offense. But that doesn't mean the interior defense for the Lakers have the night off considering the Lakers perimeter defense have yet to prove that it's worry-free regardless of what they've done the past 3 games.

> Rebounds: Against a jump-shooting team that gobble up rebounds as a team, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol better not snooze under the rim. But the Lakers also need to work together in boxing out and going after missed shots if they want to secure another win.

> Inside Game: The Lakers still have arguably 2 of the best post-players in the game today…and the Warriors have no single answer for either one of them. Logic says the Lakers should go inside each time down to open up the entire floor for them. But logic isn't always a popular subject for this team. We'll see what happens.

Game Info

Tonight @ Golden State Warriors
Tip-off: 7:30 p.m. (PST)
ORACLE Arena
TV: TWC SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN/1330 KWKW

Injury Notes

LAKERS: Steve Blake (abdomen – out until Jan.) and Steve Nash (leg – will return Tuesday)

WARRIORS: None
 

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Preview: Lakers vs. Warriors

11. That’s the number of times the Lakers (28-11) have beaten the Golden State Warriors (15-22) in a row, and it doesn’t matter whether they’re at Staples Center or, just like tonight, at the Oracle Arena. This is the second game of a back-to-back for the 2-time defending champs and will be the third meeting between these two teams this season. The Warriors could be without their star combo guard Monta Ellis tonight, who is suffering from flulike symptoms but will re-evaluate himself by gametime.

Golden State is 3 slots behind the purple and gold in the Pacific Division and owns the 9th highest-scoring offense in the NBA at the moment. They’re coming off of a 105-91 loss to the Clippers last Sunday. Meanwhile, the Lakers are bringing their 5-game winning streak to Oakland and have won 7 of their last 8 games. The champs are still sitting at #6 on the league’s scoring offense ladder and the 10th best defensive team.

The Lakers smoked Cleveland last night to a tune of a 55-point skinning and set a new NBA record of allowing the least amount of points in a single game with 57 points. But, the Warriors are a little more difficult team to put away in the same fashion because they’re the type of group that can rain it down from behind the arc and loves to push the ball almost each time they have the ball. This game could possibly catch the Lakers off-guard because of the way they’ve been handling their opponents of late, but I think the Lakers know the Warriors enough that they know all the possible pitfalls heading to tonight’s game. Then again, the Lakers are still trying to shed their recent image of allowing bad teams like the Warriors do whatever they want on nearly every facet of the game. Will that be the case tonight or will the Lakers continue their surge and handle their business once again?

In their previous two meetings this year, the Lakers have held Golden State to 86 points per game on 37.8% shooting. Considering those game were won when the Lakers are still trying to find some sort of rhythm offensively and have yet to play defense like the defending champs that they are, this game isn’t looking so good for the Warriors with or without Ellis in the lineup.

Golden State is 9-6 at home and the Lakers are 13-6 on the road.

GO LAKERS!!!

TP&G Blog’s Matchup of the Game

Ron Artest/Kobe Bryant vs. Dorell Wright: The Lakers are very familiar with both Ellis and Stephen Curry. But, Wright has been catching my eye each time the Lakers take on the Warriors. This guy can hit from outside and can slash to the basket as well as anybody in the league. Plus, he’s a lengthy defender. So, he’s definitely a guy to watch out for tonight.

Keys for the Lakers

1. Defense: The Warriors are a run-and-gun team that loves to force the game into a track meet. It’s crucial for the Lakers to put extra focus on the defensive end or this could be an upset waiting to happen.
2. The Post: This is where the Lakers can really destroy the Warriors. So, go to both Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol early and often.
3. Limit Turnovers: Golden State loves to run, so give them less reason to by protecting the ball and making smart passes.

Game Info

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

Preview: Lakers vs. Warriors

Golden State Warriors vs Los Angeles Lakers

Take a picture. It’s a road game for the Lakers (11-3). You won’t see it again until Dec. 12 when they face the Jazz. But, tonight they face the Golden State Warriors (5-9) that have begun their renovation by trading away locker room cancer Stephen Jackson and Acie Law to the Bobcats for Kobe clothes-liner Raja Bell and former Laker “space cadet” Vladimir Radmanovic. The Warriors are 2-3 since the trade.

Bell brings defense, three-point shooting, and veteran presence without the baggage. The nine-year guard out of Florida International is averaging 11.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.2 assists in six games this season. We Laker fans know what Radmanovic brings to the table. Shooting. And that’s about it. Vlade is scoring 6.5 points and 4.4 rebounds.

The Lakers had a fun Thanksgiving. Well, at least, anybody not listed above 6′ 8″. To prepare for the Warriors and to have a bit of a friendly game of bigs vs. smalls, Phil Jackson had Jordan Farmar, Shannon Brown, Sasha Vujacic, Adam Morrison, and Ron Artest face Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, Josh Powell, and DJ Mbenga where, believe it or not, the Artest-led group destroyed the bigs 145-100.

It was lesson learned for the bigs who opted to play the perimeter game instead of posting-up. But don’t fret Laker fans. They should be good and ready tonight. Well they better be. They’ll be facing a team that’s been putting up 109 points a game — second best in the NBA.

With Stephen gone, Monta Ellis has taken the scoring load for the Warriors and has been averaging 37.6 points the last three games against some of the Western Conference’s best. And Phil Jackson isn’t taking any chances so he’s putting Kobe Bryant on him.

This isn’t a knock on Derek Fisher, but the entire Laker point guard roster isn’t exactly stopping other points guard that aren’t the first option on offense either. Then again, maybe this is Phil’s way of sending a message to them.

The key for the Lakers defensively tonight is to stop Ellis from getting into any rhythm and to keep that paint clogged at all times. The transition game from offense to defense will also need to be sharp against this team that loves to push the ball as much as shooting it. Keeping a man on every shooter should be an easier task since the Warriors do not do post-ups.

Offensively, the Lakers should destroy them. Golden State is the worse defensive team in the league giving up 111.5 points per contest even if they have a few shot-blockers like Andres Biedrins, Anthony Randolph, and Ronny Turiaf in the paint. Their bigs simply can’t contend with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. Look for the Lakers to take full advantage early and often.

The big question, as always, is will the Laker bench hold up?

According to Odom, he and the second unit talked about almost surrendering a 25-point lead against the Knicks last Wednesday. It was a meeting that Lamar is confident the message went through loud and clear.

That may be so, but how long will it take for the same talks to happen again in the future? Not sure, but I have a gut feeling it will come sooner than later.

Tip-off is at 7:30. TV: KCAL-9  Radio: 710/1330 AM ESPN

GO LAKERS!!!

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