Sports Galore

Lakers (25-55) at Jazz (24-56) Game Preview – 4/14/14

After finishing up their season at Staples Center, the Lakers take to the road for their final two games of the season.

Tonight they are in Utah to take on the Jazz for the fourth and final time this year. The Jazz currently lead the season series 2-1.

As many top teams continue to fight until the last day of the regular season for a playoff spot, teams like the Lakers and Jazz are hoping to better their position in the upcoming lottery draft.

It would appear that each team is trying really hard to get the best lottery draft position as possible since both teams are 1-9 in their last 10 games.

Who will end up being the best worst team?

X-Factors:

Jodie Meeks has had two poor games this month where he averaged seven points on 23 percent shooting. Fortunately, Meeks is like most scorers and doesn’t show short-term memory. In the other five games this month, Meeks has been stupendous and has averaged 22.6 points on 53.4 percent shooting. It would only be right for Meeks to end his best season on the right note in these last two games. Meeks is averaging 15.6 points on 46 percent shooting on the season.

The big thing for the Lakers this season has been developing players. Among all these developmental players, Ryan Kelly might be the most intriguing. Although he hasn’t always had a consistent role, Kelly has played large minutes through stretches and has shown a lot of positive things. In the last two games where he has played at least 30 minutes, Kelly has averaged 16 points (46 percent shooting) and seven rebounds. Kelly will look to impress a few more people in these last two games.

Like Kelly, Trey Burke is a rookie that is trying to fully develop his game. Although he isn’t always consistent, he has shown great signs. Despite some really down games this month, Burke has still been able to average 12 points (39 percent shooting) and 9.4 rebounds in his last five games. If he gets going, Burke can go off for a big game on any night.

Enes Kanter has been allowed to develop a lot this season and has made great strides. For the past couple of months, Kanter has given the Jazz consistent production. In the past three games, Kanter has averaged 17.3 points (48.3 percent shooting) and 15.3 rebounds per game. With the Lakers lacking their usual production in the front-court, Kanter could be in for a big game tonight.

Key Players:

Jordan Hill has done a solid job since becoming the go-to big man due to the injuries of Pau Gasol and Chris Kaman. In his last six games, Hill has averaged 15.7 points (50.8 percent shooting) and 10.2 rebounds. Hill has recently said that he won’t be returning to the Lakers unless things change, so these last two games could be the last we see of Hill in purple and gold. Hopefully – for him – these last two games go very well.

Nick Young’s play has remained at a high level since his return from injury in April. After missing 17 games out of 18, Young has averaged 18.4 points on 43 percent shooting in his last 13 games. Although it’s hard to win any awards when you’re on one of the worst teams in the league, but Young should be one of the front-runners for Sixth Man of the Year. Hopefully these last two games are not the last we see of Young as a Laker. In two games against the Jazz, Young has averaged 18.5 points on 52 percent shooting.

Derrick Favors has been playing his basketball of the year as the season has dwindled down. In his last five games, Favors has averaged an impressive 16.6 points (59 percent shooting) and 7.5 rebounds. Favors has been solid against the Lakers all year and has averaged 13.3 points (55 percent shooting) and 10 rebounds in three games.

While other Jazz players have been playing great recently, Gordon Hayward hasn’t been as good as he as at many points this year. Hayward is averaging 15.8 points on 39 percent shooting in his last five games, However, the Lakers might help him get back on the right track since he has averaged 20.3 points (48 percent shooting), 7.3 assists and five rebounds in three games against them.

Expected Starting Lineups

Lakers:
Kendall Marshall
Jodie Meeks
Wesley Johnson
Ryan Kelly
Jordan Hill

Key reserves: Nick Young and Robert Sacre

Jazz:
Trey Burke
Alec Burks
Gordon Hayward
Derrick Favors
Enes Kanter

Key reserves: Richard Jefferson and Jeremy Evans

Lakers (25-52) vs. Rockets (51-25) Game Preview – 4/8/14

After tying a franchise record for most losses in a season (52), the Los Angeles Lakers start a three-game home stand – last home games this season – against the Houston Rockets.

For the sixth time this year, the Lakers are coming off of four straight losses. The team now has a great shot at getting the most losses by a Lakers team in one season. Counting tonight’s game, the Lakers five remaining games come from teams with a combined record of 228-156.

During the most recent four-game slide, the Lakers defense has done what they’ve done all year: nothing. The team has allowed an average of 114.5 points on 49.9 percent shooting in the four games. This doesn’t bode well going into tonight’s game, either.

The Rockets are leading the season series against the Lakers 2-1. In the three games, the Rockets are averaging 115 points on 44.4 percent shooting. If the one Los Angeles victory from the beginning of the season is taken out of the picture, the Rockets have averaged 123.5 point on 47.8 percent shooting in the last two meetings.

Houston will look to continue that trend as they are averaging 120.5 points on 44.1 percent shooting during their two-game winning streak.

As the season comes to an end, the injury train for the Lakers does not stop. The newest member on that ride is Kent Bazemore. Bazemore suffered a foot injury in the latest game and it has now been reported that he will be out for the season with a torn tendon in his right foot.

Prior to the latest game, many reported that it would be the last game of the season for Steve Nash, However, Mike D’Antoni then said he would play at least one more game. Nash is just five assists shy of passing Mark Jackson for number three on the all-time assist list, and that feat could very well be the reason Nash is giving it one more go.

The Rockets also come into tonight’s game without their full roster. Dwight Howard and Patrick Beverley will both be out of Houston’s starting lineup due to an ankle and knee injury, respectively.

X-Factors:

Kendall Marshall is back to putting together a nice stretch of productivity. During the last give games, Marshall has averaged over 30 minutes per game and has used that to average 9.4 points (46 percent shooting) and nine rebounds. Marshall will have to be big for the Lakers down the stretch if they hope to have any success. In two games against the Rockets, Marshall has averaged 12.5 points (35 percent shooting) and 12 assists.

Jodie Meeks has played as good as any Laker has against the Rockets this year. In three meetings against Houston, Meeks has averaged 19.3 points on 50 percent shooting. He has a good shot at continuing that productivity since he has been strong as of late. In his last three games, Meeks is averaging 21 points on 50.7 percent shooting.

Remember Houston’s stellar starting center before Dwight Howard? Well, if you don’t, it was Omer Asik. In four games this month, Asik has dominated the paint to the tune of averaging 12 points (59 percent shooting) and 18.3 rebounds. Asik is showing why the Rockets tried to get so much out of him during the trade deadline, and he could dominate the glass against the Lakers tonight. In just 23 minutes per game, Asik has averaged 6.5 points (33 percent shooting) and 10.5 rebounds in two games against the Lakers.

Terrence Ross went through a three-game stretch where he struggled due to the flu, but has then bounced back in his last two games. In the last two games, Ross has averaged 15 points (48 percent shooting) and eight rebounds per game. Ross is the definition of an “x-factor” for the Rockets and it shows in their wins and losses. On the season, Jones’ scoring goes up by 6.7 points on 16 percent better shooting percentage in victories.

Key Players:

To say James Harden has been playing well would be an understatement. In his last five games, Harden has averaged 31 points (40 percent shooting), 6.8 assists and 5.4 rebounds. And to make the Lakers feel even worse, Harden has killed them in three games this year to an average of 34 points (51 percent shooting), 6.7 assists, 6.3 rebounds and 4.3 steals. With the Rockets a little shorthanded, Harden will continue to be aggressive and look to make things happen.

Like Harden, Chandler Parsons has also stepped up his play lately. Parsons has averaged 20.4 points (44 percent shooting) and 6.6 rebounds in the last give games. It appears that Parsons is just another Rocket that is heating up for a deep playoff run. In two games against Los Angeles, Parsons has averaged 17 points (56 percent shooting) and four rebounds.

Jordan Hill has put together some nice streaks for the Lakers this season, and it looks like he might end the season on a positive note. Hill has been asked to be a main big man with the absence of Pau Gasol and Chris Kaman, and he has done a great job. In the past three games, Hill has averaged 18 points (51.3 percent shooting) and 11.3 rebounds.

Nick Young has continued his strong play into April. In four games this month, Young has averaged 22.3 points on 47 percent shooting. With Bazemore out for the rest of the year, Young will be the guy looked at to pick up his scoring even more. Young’s remaining days as a Laker are possibly dwindling down, hopefully he can make them days to remember. Young has averaged 18 points (45 percent shooting) and five rebounds in two games against the Rockets.

Expected Starting Lineups

Lakers:
Kendall Marshall
Jodie Meeks
Wesley Johnson
Ryan Kelly
Jordan Hill

Key reserves: Nick Young and MarShon Brooks

Rockets:
Jeremy Lin
James Harden
Chandler Parsons
Terrence Jones
Omer Asik

Key reserves: Francisco Garcia and Isaiah Canaan

Lakers (25-50) vs Mavericks (45-31) Game Preview – 4/4/14

It’s finally happened.

For the third time – and first since the 1974-75 season – the Los Angeles Lakers have lost at least 50 games. The most losses in one season from those three teams was 53. This means that with seven games left in the season, this team can become the most losing team in the history of the Lakers.

In the big picture, it’s pretty obvious that the Lakers would be better off losing their last few games just to help their draft position. They will take the first step in doing that tonight as they face the Dallas Mavericks. This will be the third and final meeting between the teams this season. Dallas has won both games by an average of 16 points.

Opposite from the Lakers, the Mavericks are fighting for a chance to play in the playoffs. As it stands now, Dallas is only one win above the Memphis Grizzlies for the last spot in the West. The Mavericks can’t afford to take any days off as their regular season schedule comes to an end.

Dallas’ success against the Lakers this season has been no surprise. The Lakers are one of the worst defensive teams in the league, and Dallas is one of the better offensive teams in basketball. On defense, the Lakers are currently the 29th worst scoring defense (108.9) and the 24th worst shooting defense (46.5). Then there is Dallas who ranks 8th in scoring (105.2) and 4th in shooting (47.3).

In two games against the Lakers, the Mavericks have averaged 116.5 points on 52.7 percent shooting.

In your daily dosage of Lakers injury news, it was recently reported that Pau Gasol and Xavier Henry are likely out for the remainder of the season, and today it was reported that tonight will be the last game of the season for Steve Nash – and possibly his last game ever. If tonight is in fact the last time Nash ever wears purple and gold, it will be the end of a very sad and disappointing tenure for one of the greatest players of all-time. In 13 games this year, Nash has averaged 7.3 points and 5.7 assists.

X-Factors:

Kendall Marshall has strung together three solid performances after going through a rough patch. In the last three games, Marshall has averaged 9.3 points (50 percent shooting), 8.7 assists and 4.7 rebounds. Marshall was nothing but stellar in his early games with the Lakers, but he has since shown a great deal of inconsistency. For Marshall, it is important for him to finish this season strong in order to build up his stock going into next season. In one meeting against the Mavericks, Marshall had 18 points (70 percent shooting) and six assists.

Two games ago, Jodie Meeks had his worst performance since the end of December. Luckily, Meeks showed his ability to get over things quickly when he bounced right back with a 21-point performance on 53 percent shooting. Meeks continues to be a strong point of the Lakers’ offense, and he will need to be on his game for the team to have a strong shot at victory – especially as Gasol sits out these remaining games. Meeks has averaged 17.5 points on 39 percent shooting in two meetings against Dallas.

Hidden under all the big names on Dallas is Jose Calderon. Calderon is a big part of his team’s offense success as he is a solid facilitator and fills open holes. Calderon has been strong as of late, averaging 13.8 points (50.2 percent shooting) and five assists. Calderon has also been nothing but solid against the Lakers in their two games this year: averaging 12 points (64 percent shooting) and 6.5 assists.

Vince Carter has done something that many superstars fail to do as they enter the twilight of their career – stay relevant. Although he isn’t “Vincanity” from 2005, Carter is still a productive player and has averaged 15.4 points on 45.2 percent shooting in his last five games. Carter’s production off the bench gives Dallas a boost that many teams don’t have. Carter’s averaged 13.5 points on 46 percent shooting against the Lakers this year.

Key Players:

The story on Jordan Hill hasn’t changed – he is effective when given the minutes to be effective. Last game was one of those moments, and Hill took advantage and had 18 points (33 percent shooting), 15 rebounds and four blocks. With Gasol out, Hill should now be looked at as the go-to big man for the Lakers going down the stretch. Like many other current Lakers, Hill will be a free agent this summer and is looking to impress as many teams as he can.

These last few games could be the last time Nick Young ever wears a Lakers jersey. Young has a player option on his contract after the season, but he is likely to test the free agency market after his stellar play. If these are indeed Young’s last game as a Laker, they will have been some great games. Since coming back from injury, Young has averaged 22.9 points on 43 percent shooting in eight games back. At this point, Young should be the front-runner for the Sixth Man of the Year Award, and hopefully he can put an emphasis on that as the season ends. Young has averaged only 11.5 points on 47 percent shooting against the Mavericks this year.

Dirk Nowitzki has turned up his game for the playoff push. In the last give games, Nowitzki has averaged 26.2 points (52.6 percent shooting), 9.6 rebounds and four assists. Some people want to already count out Nowitzki, but that champion blood is still pumping through him. He will look to be a force as the season dwindles down. In only 29 minutes per game, Nowitzki has averaged 19 points (55 percent shooting), 7.5 rebounds and four assists against the Lakers this year.

Monta Ellis has also turned up his play as of late. In the last eight games, Ellis has averaged 20.6 points (44.5 percent shooting) and six assists. Ellis has also been the player killing the Lakers this year, not Nowitzki. In the two games against Los Angeles, Ellis has averaged 23 points (56 percent shooting) and nine assists. Ellis will look to feast on the Lakers’ terrible defense yet again.

Expected Starting Lineups

Lakers:
Kendall Marshall
Jodie Meeks
Wesley Johnson
Ryan Kelly
Jordan Hill

Key reserves: Nick Young and Kent Bazemore

Mavericks:
Jose Calderon
Monta Ellis
Dirk Nowitzki
Shawn Marion
Samuel Dalembert

Key reserves: Vince Carter and Devin Harris

Los Angeles Lakers (22-43) at Spurs (48-16) Game Preview – 3/14/14

After getting slaughtered in Oklahoma City, the Los Angeles Lakers are in San Antonio to take on the Spurs for the first time since November.

As terrible as the Lakers have been on defense this year, they might be going through their worst stretch of the season. Alex Kennedy of Basketballinsiders.com pointed out that the Lakers have allowed 649 points over last five games which is the highest total allowed by any team over a five-game span since the Hornets allowed 652 points in 1992.

During that span, that Lakers have allowed an average of 129.8 points on 52.5 percent shooting per game. Those numbers are simply outrageous and make it impossible to win games. The Lakers were lucky enough to win one game during this span, but it took a career-best 42 points from Jodie Meeks. The Lakers are now allowing an average of 108.2 points per game on the season. Only the Philadelphia 76ers are worse at 111.1 points per game.

The Spurs know nothing of these struggles. It’s hard for people to fully understand, but somehow they continue to stay at the top. They have the best record in the entire league and are 11-1 in their last 12 games.

So what do the Spurs do so well? Offense? Defense? Well, it’s actually both. Some people don’t picture the Spurs an outstanding offensive team, but they are currently 7th in scoring (104.6) and 2nd in shooting percentage (48.8). On defense, the Spurs 6th in scoring defense (97.9) and 9th in opponent shooting percentage (44.7).Simply put, the Spurs have a fantastic system that gets the most out of the players in it.

X-Factors:

After having his most quiet performance as a Laker (three points in 16 minutes), Kent Bazemore has bounced back in the last two games: averaging 13.5 points (43.5 percent shooting) and seven rebounds per game. Bazemore seems to need a lot of action in order to stay focused and be effective. Nick Young could possibly be coming back from injury soon, and that may very well take away minutes Bazemore has been getting. He needs to contineu making the most out of his opportunity right now.

Jordan Farmar has scored in double-figures three straight games for the first time since November. This season has been tough for the point guard, but he is coming on at the end of the season. In the past eight games, Farmar is averaging 16 points on 47.6 percent shooting. That is great production coming off the bench and Farmar is proving what he is capable of.

Kawhi Leonard put himself on the national map during last year’s playoff run, and although he may not have blown up like people thought he would this season, he is still a strong player. After missing 14 games due to injury, Leonard has returned without missing a beat. In eight games back, Leonard has averaged 14.6 points (59.5 percent shooting) and seven rebounds per game. He had a strong first game against the Lakers: 15 points (40 percent shooting) and 11 rebounds.

Manu Ginobili is coming off one of his best three-game stretches of the season: averaging 19.7 points on 59 percent shooting. Ginobili might be old, but he can still come off the bench and show spurts of the old Ginobili we all know. The Lakers better hope his recent hot streak doesn’t continue tonight, because the Spurs are difficult to beat when he’s producing like that. Ginobili enjoyed playing the Lakers in their first meeting: 20 points on 50 percent shooting.

Key Players:

So, you wanna know the story of Jodie Meeks in 2014? Since January, Meeks has averaged 18.2 points on 48.7 percent shooting. That isn’t a small sample size by any means, and it’s extremely impressive. In a year that has only had Kobe Bryant in six games, Meeks has taken the opportunity to display what he is capable of. He seems to be the most consistent and efficient scoring option for the Lakers right now. Meeks had 14 poitns on 56 percent shooting in the first game against the Spurs.

It seems it’s been a while, but Pau Gasol finally had a pretty poor overall game in his last time on the court: 14 points (42 percent shooting) and six rebounds. It’s already difficult for the Lakers to win the game, so it just makes it that much more difficult when Gasol struggles like that. Hopefully it was just a bad game and Gasol can get back to his strong play. Gasol had 20 points (47 percent shooting) and 11 rebounds in the first game against the Spurs.

Tim Duncan might not be on Kobe’s “Vino list”, but he is still producing strong numbers for San Antonio. On the season, Duncan is averaging 15.2 points (49 percent shooting) and 10 rebounds. However, he is in a funk which bodes well for the Lakers. In the last three games, Duncan is averaging eight points (36.3 percent shooting) and 10 rebounds per game. However, the Spurs have still won all three of those games – which shows how good they are. This will be Duncan’s first game against the Lakers this season.

Tony Parker is just twelve days back from missing five straight games, but he doesn’t appear to have gained any rust. In six games this month, Parker is averaging 17.5 points (48 percent shooting) and 5.8 assists per game. Parker is the Spurs’ best player, and when he is on they are nearly unbeatable. He feasted on the Lakers in the start of the season: 24 points (67 percent shooting), six assists and four rebounds.

Expected Starting Lineups

Lakers:

Kendall Marshall

Jodie Meeks

Wesley Johnson

Ryan Kelly

Pau Gasol

Key reserves: Jordan Farmar and Kent Bazemore

Spurs:

Tony Parker

Danny Green

Kawhi Leonard

Tim Duncan

Tiago Splitter

Key reserves: Manu Ginobili, Boris Diaw, Patty Mills and Marco Belinelli

 

Lakers (22-42) at Thunder (47-17) Game Preview – 3/13/14

Tonight, the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder will play for the fourth and final time this season.

The Thunder lead the season series 2-1, but the Lakers did pull off the upset when they met in Staples Center just five days ago.

It had to be considered an upset not only because of the records, but because of how terrible the Lakers were playing. Prior to beating the Thunder, the Lakers has lost three straight by allowing opponents to average 136 points on 56.6 percent shooting during that span. Take a moment to soak in those numbers.

Against the Thunder, the defense wasn’t good, but it wasn’t unbearable. The Thunder scored 110 points on only 42 percent shooting. The downfall of the Thunder was that they expected to ride their big three to victory (Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka) but that didn’t happen. Those three played well and combined for 68 points, 32 rebounds and 21 assists, but the other eight Thunder players that played combined for only 42 points, 27 rebounds and five assists. That core of three players might be able to win some games, but it isn’t practical nor ideal.

The loss marked the fifth loss in eight games for the Thunder which did cause some concern. However, they are fresh off a strong win against the Houston Rockets who have been one of the best teams in the league since the All-Star break.

On the other end, the Lakers haven’t played since that Sunday meeting and should be more than prepared for this game.

As the Thunder fight for the top spot in the West, the Lakers are fighting for the top spot in the draft.

X-Factors:

Ryan Kelly is just the next victim of “D’Antonism” by having a very inconsistent role with the team. However, Kelly has always shows that he is worth the minutes whenever he gets them. Kelly has played 30 or more minutes for back-to-back games, and in that time he is averaging 18 points (50 percent shooting, 58.5 percent on 3-pointers), eight rebounds and 4.5 assists. Kelly played 37 minutes against the Thunder on Sunday – his most in 14 games – and should see another big role tonight.

Kendall Marshall has found a way to still be very effective in a decreased role. Marshall was once playing nearly 40 minutes a night and averaging around 12 points and 12 assists per game, but in the last six games he is only playing an average of 24 minutes a game. In those 24 minutes, Marshall has still found a way to average 10.3 assists per game. His scoring might not be there anymore, but that isn’t worrisome when he is being that efficient with assisting in his time on the court. In two games against the Thunder, Marshall is averaging seven points (38 percent shooting), 13.5 assists and six rebounds.

Reggie Jackson has seen a decreased role since Westbrook has returned from injury, but he remains a big part of his team’s success. After playing at least 30 minutes per game for 14 straight games, Jackson has only been playing 24 minutes per game during the last five games. In that time, Jackson has proved to be the Thunder’s biggest weapon off the bench by averaging 11.6 points (46 percent shooting) and 4.4 rebounds per game. Jackson has been effective in his three games against the Lakers this year: averaging 16.3 points (44 percent shooting) and 6.3 rebounds.

Key Players:

The improvement Jodie Meeks has shown this season is remarkable. Last year, if you told someone that a season from now Meeks would be averaging 15.3 points on 46 points through a whole season, they would probably laugh in your face. Fortunately, that is the truth of the matter. It was only right for Meeks to top off this fantastic season with a career-best game (previous game, against the Thunder): 42 points on 61 percent shooting (6-of-11 from three). Hopefully Meeks has kept his hot hand ready for this game.

Pau Gasol is still continuing his strong 2014. He has now scored at least 20 points in six straight games, which is his second longest such streak of the season (10). Gasol is currently averaging 17.7 points (48 percent shooting), 9.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists on the season. Gasol is right near those season numbers in his two games against the Thunder this year: 17 points (52 percent shooting), nine rebounds and three assists.

For the most part, the Lakers have struggled to contain good big men this season, and that’s the case with Serge Ibaka. Ibaka already has strong season averages, but the Lakers have allowed nearly all his numbers to go up in their season series. In three games against the Lakers, Ibaka is averaging 16.7 points (53 percent shooting), 10.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game. It’s already hard enough to beat a team with Durant and Westbrook, so the Lakers are just making it harder on themselves when they allow Ibaka to play like that.

Russell Westbrook is starting to look more and more like the player we all know. In his last three games, Westbrook is averaging 20.7 points (44 percent shooting), eight assists and 6.7 rebounds per game. It only makes sense to expect Westbrook to play better and better as the season goes on. Although he hasn’t shot the ball great in his two games against the Lakers, he has still been very good: averaging 19.5 points (33 percent shooting), 10 assists, 7.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game.

Kevin Durant is having a monster season: averaging 31.9 points (51 percent shooting), 7.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists. Like nearly every team he has played this year, Durant has been an absolute beast against the Lakers. In the three games against Los Angeles, Durant is averaging a cool 33.7 points (49 percent shooting), 10 rebounds, eight assists and 2.3 steals. After three games, it’s pretty clear that the Lakers don’t have any answer for Durant. All they can hope for is that he has an off night – and that doesn’t happen that much.

Expected Starting Lineups

Lakers:

Kendall Marshall

Jodie Meeks

Wesley Johnson

Ryan Kelly

Pau Gasol

Key reserves: Jordan Farmar and Kent Bazemore

Thunder:

Russell Westbrook

Perry Jones

Kevin Durant

Serge Ibaka

Steven Adams

Key reserves: Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb

Lakers (21-40) vs. Clippers (42-20) Game Preview – 3/6/14

Tonight will be the third meeting between the Lakers and Clippers in the battle for Los Angeles.

The teams opened the season against each other in a game that would become one of the best Lakers’ victories of the season. However, the Clippers did get their revenge about two months ago when they blew out the Lakers.

The Lakers weren’t able to win three consecutive games, but instead they were able to continue their horrid defensive year. The New Orleans Pelicans came into town and dropped 132 points on 59.7 percent shooting (!!). The game marked the 10th time a Lakers opponent has scored at least 120 points. In fact – during the last eight games – the Lakers have allowed scores of: 134, 118, 122 and 132. At this point, opponents should be licking their chops at the possibility of having an offensive field day.

In a complete change of tradition, while the Lakers are one of the worst teams in the league, the Clippers are enjoying the taste of success. Despite having to go through some obstacles, the Clippers have found a way to only be 4.5 games out of the number top-seed in the West.

Doc Rivers was supposed to come over and fix the Clippers’ defense, but they are still an average – at best – defensive unit. Fortunately, they have one of the best offenses in the league. They are only behind Portland by .5 points for the highest scoring team in the league – 107.2 points per game, and they are sixth in shooting percentage at 47.3 percent.

As good as the Clippers have been all year on offense, they have turned it up in the last two games where they are 8-2. In that span, the team is averaging 112.3 points on 49.3 percent shooting. As much as the Lakers might want to get out and run and play at a higher tempo, that just isn’t the way to beat the Clippers. Out of the Clippers’ 20 losses, 12 of them came when they failed to score at least 100 points. Simply put, the Clippers live and die with their offense.

In the two meetings against the Lakers, the Clippers are averaging 113 points on 49.2 percent shooting per game.

Luckily for the Lakers, the Clippers will be without Jamal Crawford for the third straight game due to a calf injury. Crawford is averaging 19 points on 42 percent shooting this season.

X-Factors:

Kendall Marshall is on a three-game double-figure assisting streak for the first time since mid-January. Since Marshall and Farmar have been basically splitting minutes, Marshall’s scoring has become non-existent – averaging two points through the last two games – but at least he is still dishing assists out. Marshall had a big game in his first meeting against the Clippers: 16 points (55 percent shooting) and 10 assists.

Kent Bazemore is – yet again – coming off a career high in scoring of 23 points. That pushes his average with the Lakers to 16.9 points on 47.3 percent shooting. Bazemore really could be the x-factor in this game since the Clippers are capable of playing weak defense. The best thing for Bazemore to do will be to just keep doing what he’s been doing: be aggressive and attack.

After having a couple of nice scoring games, Jordan Farmar had an off night, but then he followed it up with a bounce-back 20-point performance. Farmar is starting to look strong, and in the last four games he is averaging 18.8 points (54 percent shooting) and six assists per game. After struggling to have just one good point guard on the floor this year, the Lakers now have the luxury of having two. In his one game against the Clippers, Farmar had 16 points (60 percent shooting), six assists and four rebounds.

Since Crawford went down three games ago, Darren Collison has been asked to help fill his void. In those three games, Collison is averaging 17.3 points (55.7 percent shooting, 59 percent on three-pointers) and 4.3 assists per game. The Clippers couldn’t ask for more from Collison, and he could continue his magnificent plays tonight since he is averaging 14.5 points on 77 percent shooting against the Lakers on only 22 minutes per game.

DeAndre Jordan gets knocked for his offensive game – or lack of one – but he still does other things very well. Rivers has helped Jordan turn into a better defender and rebounds, and he is a vital part of the Clippers’ success. Oh, and he has murdered the Lakers in their two games this year: 15 points (68 percent shooting), 10.5 rebounds, five blocks and 2.5 steals per game.

Key Players:

Jodie Meeks has established himself as one of the most reliable offensive weapons the Lakers have, and he is in a extremely hot four-game streak – averaging 19.8 points on 69.5 percent shooting per game. Meeks should continue this hot streak against the weak Clippers’ defense. However – oddly enough – Meeks hasn’t done well in the two games against them: averaging 12 points on 33 percent shooting per game. The Lakers will need better production than that in order to win tonight.

Pau Gasol is also in quite the groove. In the last three games, Gasol is averaging 24.3 points (58.7 percent shooting), 8.7 rebounds and five assists per game. Gasol’s story is pretty much like Meeks’ – he has struggled against the Clippers this year. In two games, Gasol is averaging 12.5 points (37 percent shooting), 10.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists. Although his line seems like a solid overall game, the Lakers are going to struggle to win any games when Gasol is only averaging above 12 points on that low of a shooting percentage. Gasol must find a way to be aggressive and efficient tonight.

Chris Paul hasn’t been shooting as well as he would like since he has returned from injury, but in the 10 games since his return, Paul has not had less than eight assists in any game. Most people tend to agree that Paul is the best point guard in the game today, and for good reason. On the season, Paul is averaging 18.8 points (46 percent shooting), 11 assists and 4.5 rebounds. Paul only played in one game against the Lakers this year, and he had a strong all-around game: 15 points (39 percent shooting), 11 assists, six rebounds and five steals.

When Paul went down, Blake Griffin surprised most people and took his game to new heights. In fact, many people have him right behind LeBron James and Kevin Durant in the MVP race. In the last two games, Griffin is averaging 26.8 points (55 percent shooting) and nine rebounds. With his recent play, he’s shown that he is capable of taking over a game and the Lakers must do a better job at defending him than they have done. In two games against the Lakers, Griffin is averaging 26 points (67 percent shooting), 9.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.5 steals.

Expected Starting Lineups

Lakers:
Kendall Marshall
Jodie Meeks
Kent Bazemore
Wesley Johnson
Pau Gasol

Key reserves: Jordan Farmar, MarShon Brooks and Xavier Henry

Clippers:
Chris Paul
Darren Collison
Matt Barnes
Blake Griffin
DeAndre Jordan

Key reserves: Glen Davis and Jared Dudley

Lakers (21-39) vs. Pelicans (23-37) Game Preview – 3/4/14

The Lakers have won three straight games only one time this year – in November – and tonight they have the opportunity to do it again at home against a struggling New Orleans Pelicans squad.

This will be the third and final meeting between the teams this season. The season series is currently tied at one game a piece – each team has won at home.

Los Angeles may have a slightly worse record, but the Pelicans are the ones who have been playing worse. In their last 11 games, New Orleans is a pitiful 1-10. The biggest reason for their poor play has been their inability to create offense. During that span, the Pelicans are averaging 93 points on 44.8 percent shooting.

This bodes well for a Lakers squad that hasn’t played good defense all year. In the last eight games, the Lakers are allowing an average of 111.9 points on 46.5 percent shooting.

Because the Pelicans aren’t a high-powered offense, the Lakers could possibly win this game without scoring 100 points or more – something they have only done three times this year. The Lakers’ offense has needed to be stellar in nearly all of their wins – and that’s why they only have 21 of them. In the Lakers’ last nine victories (dating back to December), the team has averaged 110.9 points on 51.1 percent shooting.

X-Factors:

After not getting a lot of minutes for a couple of games, Wesley Johnson has played at least 36 minutes in the last three games and has gotten in a nice groove – and hit a game-winner. In the last four games, Johnson has turned it up offensively and is averaging 14.8 points (56 percent shooting, 41.8 percent from three) and 7.3 rebounds per game. Johnson needs to continue his recent play since he has been terrible in the two games against the Pelicans: averaging four points (33 percent shooting) and five rebounds per game.

After six games of having no more than 25 minutes, it’s clear that Kendall Marshall’s role just isn’t going to be what it was earlier this year. Marshall is starting to adapt better to it, though, and is coming off of back-to-back double-digit assisting games for the first time in two weeks. Marshall is too good of a facilitator to not be effective – he will find ways. Marshall wasn’t a member of the team in the first two meetings against the Pelicans, so he will be something new for them.

Kent Bazemore isn’t setting a new career-high every game like he was at first with the Lakers, but he is still being very productive. In his six games as a Laker, Bazemore is averaging 15.8 points (47.3 percent shooting) and 3.7 rebounds per game. As long as Bazemore continues this production and efficiency, he should stay in the starting lineup.

Eric Gordon had a very good month of February: averaged 15.8 points on 46 percent shooting. However, he is inconsistent, and that has showed in his last two games where he has averaged only six points on 27 percent shooting. Gordon has scored well against the Lakers this year: average of 16.5 points on 42 percent shooting in two games against them.

Key Players:

Jodie Meeks has been dominating 2014, and it’s finally time he becomes a key player. As good as Meeks has been, he’s been on fire in his last three games: averaging 20.7 points on 73.3 percent shooting (61 percent on three-pointers). Meeks will be in for quite the payday this offseason if he finishes the season like this. In two games against the Pelicans, Meeks is averaging 13 points on 53 percent shooting.

Pau Gasol has not done his best against the Pelicans. In the two games against them this year, Gasol is averaging 11.5 points (41 percent shooting) and 9.5 rebounds per game. Although a double-double looks nice on paper, Gasol simply hasn’t been able to do much when Anthony Davis is around him. Heck, in the first game Davis had five blocks on Gasol alone. Maybe Gasol can turn things around with the groove he has been in for some time now. Gasol is averaging 22 points (54.5 percent shooting), seven rebounds and 5.5 assists per game in his last two games.

Tyreke Evans has been very inconsistent all year, but he has been playing better as of late. In the last two games, Evans is averaging 24.5 points (52 percent shooting), 9.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game. The Pelicans especially need him to pick up his play since their star point guard Jrue Holiday is out for the season. Evans has struggled against the Lakers this year: averaging nine points (28 percent shooting), 5.5 rebounds and four assists in two games.

Ah – finally – The Unibrow. Anthony Davis may very well be having the most breakout year of any player this season. Davis has established himself a force on both ends of the floor who can dominate a game and is averaging 20.1 points (52 percent shooting), 9.9 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game. I’m sure I speak for all Lakers fans when I say we don’t forget the career game he put on against us earlier this year: 32 points (67 percent shooting), 12 rebounds and six blocks. If the Pelicans win this game, it’s most likely going to be because Davis had a monster game.

Expected Starting Lineups:

Lakers:
Kendall Marshall
Jodie Meeks
Kent Bazemore
Wesley Johnson
Pau Gasol

Key reserves: Jordan Farmar, Jordan Hill and MarShon Brooks

Pelicans:
Brian Roberts
Eric Gordon
Tyreke Evans
Anthony Davis
Alexis Ajinca

Key reserves: Anthony Morrow and Austin Rivers

Lakers (20-39) at Trail Blazers (41-18) Game Preview – 3/3/14

After having the weekend off, the Lakers now have a back-to-back that starts tonight against the Portland Trail Blazers. Portland has won 12 of the last 15 home games against the Lakers. The two teams first met at Staples Center in the beginning of December where the Blazers won a tight contest.

The Lakers have been dealing with disappointment and adversity the entire season, and today Mike D’Antoni said that he doesn’t believe either Kobe Bryant or Steve Nash will play again this year.

Although many have already realized this, it is still a very saddening matter. Bryant has simply had a nightmare season and Nash has had a nightmare of a tenure in Los Angeles. Hopefully Bryant is fine for next year, but there is speculation that Nash could possibly retire this summer. It would be a shame for Nash to retire due to these circumstances.

As for the current Lakers’ squad, they have a pretty tough road ahead of them. Including tonight’s game, the record of their next nine opponents is 249-156 – they play the Thunder and Spurs twice. In fact, the remaining schedule for the Lakers is one of the tougher ones in the league. This bodes well for the pro-tanking crowd.

The Blazers started off as one of the best teams in the league. However, there was a ten-game stretch about a month ago where the team went 3-7. Some people were never sold on the early success from Portland and thought this was more of who they actually were, but the Blazers have responded by going 5-0 in their last five games.

Despite any rough patch Portland has had, they are still the highest scoring offense in the league at 107.8 points per game. Portland doesn’t do this by shooting lights out – they are 14th in the league at 45.2 percent – but instead they do it by taking a lot of shots. The Blazers are currently taking the third-most shots per game in the league at 87.6. Luckily for them, the Lakers allow the most shots in the league at 89.7 per game.

Over the last three games, Los Angeles has allowed 116 points on 48.6 percent shooting per game. In the first meeting between these two teams, the Blazers scored 114 points on 43.7 percent shooting. The Blazers have failed to score at least 100 points only 12 times this year.

On a positive note – rare these days – Xavier Henry will be back with the team tonight. Henry has played a couple of games in the D-league in order to help get himself in game shape, but he isn’t back to 100 percent yet and is expected to play limited minutes.

Nick Young remains out with soreness in his knee.

X-Factors:

Sadly, Kendall Marshall is getting the short end of the stick right now as far as minutes go. Marshall was playing nearly the entire game for many of his starts, but he has yet to play more than 25 minutes in his last five games. Because of this, Marshall’s scoring has become nearly nonexistent – averaging 1.4 points on 11.6 percent shooting – but he has still found a way to help his teammates and is averaging 7.4 assists per game during that time. Hopefully January Marshall can return sooner than later.

Jodie Meeks had a rough shooting night against Indiana, but in the two games after that he has averaged 20.5 points on 85 percent shooting (75 percent on three-pointers). Meeks has become a staple of the offense and the last time Meeks failed to score double-digit points was in December. Meeks scored 20 points on 43 percent shooting in the first meeting with Portland.

Kent Bazemore stole all the spotlight from the trade with Golden State, but MarShon Brooks has been very good as well. As a Laker, Brooks is averaging 13.8 points on 60 percent shooting and is coming off his best with the team – 23 points on 69 percent shooting. It’s unknown how all the minutes will be shared once Henry and Young return – but for now – Brooks is probably the biggest scoring threat off the bench.

Wesley Matthews has been stellar for nearly the entire season, but he is going through his roughest three-game stretch of the season. Matthews is averaging 16.5 points on 45 percent shooting for the season, but in the last three games he is only averaging nine points on 32 percent shooting. Hopefully Matthews can wait one more game to get back on track for what he has been doing all year. Matthews scored 17 points on 50 percent shooting in the first meeting against the Lakers.

Nicolas Batum is part of the reason why the Blazers have the best scoring offense in the league. In the last four games, Batum is averaging 16.5 points (51.8 percent shooting), 9.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game. Batum can do it all, and he showed that in the first meeting against the Lakers – 9 points (44 percent shooting), nine rebounds and nine assists.

Key Players:

After missing five games due to injury, LaMarcus Aldridge returned with little rust: 16 points (47 percent shooting) and seven rebounds. There has only been one game this year where Aldridge failed to score double-digit points – and that game was recently when he only played 13 minutes due to injury. Aldridge was great in the first meeting against the Lakers: 27 points (58 percent shooting) and nine rebounds.

Damian Lillard – last season’s Rookie of the Year – had a great month of February: 23.6 points (48 percent shooting), 6.1 assists and 3.8 rebounds. Oddly enough, Lillard’s numbers are better in losses. In victories, Lillard averages 19.7 points (41 percent shooting), six assists and 3.9 rebounds, but in losses he averages – 24.6 points (48 percent shooting), 4.9 assists and 2.9 rebounds. So it looks like the Lakers would encourage a bigger game from Lillard than his teammates. Lillard had 26 points (37 percent shooting), nine assists and five rebounds in the first meeting with Los Angeles.

As Marshall’s production has gone down, Jordan Farmar’s has picked up. The point guard showed a lot of promise in the beginning of the season, but it seems like all he has done this year is battle his hamstring. However, things are finally starting to turn up for Farmar. In the last two games, Farmar is averaging 23 points on 57 percent shooting (73.5 percent on three-pointers) and five assists. It would be nice if he could finish out the season strong.

Pau Gasol has been just as good as he was before he sat out a handful of games due to injury. Since the break, Gasol is averaging 18 points (54.4 percent shooting) and 8.4 rebounds. Gasol and D’Antoni have rekindled their beef from earlier this year, but it isn’t stopping Gasol from being a productive player. Gasol will need to bounce back from his six points (20 percent shooting) and five rebound performance in the first game against the Blazers.

Expected Starting Lineups

Lakers:
Kendall Marshall
Jodie Meeks
Kent Bazemore
Wesley Johnson
Pau Gasol

Key reserves: Jordan Farmar, MarShon Brooks and Jordan Hill

Trail Blazers:
Damian Lillard
Wesley Matthews
Nicolas Batum
LaMarcus Aldridge
Robin Lopez

Key reserves: Mo Williams and Dorell Wright

Lakers (19-38) at Grizzlies (31-24) Game Preview – 2/26/14

The Lakers are in Memphis to take on the Grizzlies for the third meeting between the teams this year. The series is currently split at two games – the Grizzlies won by three in Los Angeles and the Lakers won by four in Memphis.

Tonight is also the second night of a back-to-back for the Lakers who are currently 4-8 in such games. Coincidentally, all four wins have come on the road – one of which was in Memphis. In the eight losses, the Lakers give up an average of 110.5 points on nearly 45 percent shooting per game.

The Lakers haven’t bettered their defense at all. Heck, they should be the worst scoring defensive in the league, but for some reason, the 76ers really want that title. In the last four games for Los Angeles, the Lakers have given up an average of 113 points on 45.8 percent shooting. Hopefully, a contest against the Grizzlies can get their defense going. The Grizzlies are 28th in scoring at 94.8 points per game, and in the two games against the Lakers, they are averaging 90.5 points on 42.1 percent shooting.

Unlike the Lakers, the Grizzlies come into tonight’s game playing some very good basketball – 4-1 in their last five games. Much of that has to do with their defense that is one of the best in the association. Memphis opponents average 94.4 points on 44.6 percent shooting. In two games against Memphis, the Lakers have been held to an average of 91 points on 46.6 percent shooting per game.

X-Factors:

Jodie Meeks didn’t shoot well against the Pacers, but he was able to push his double-digit scoring streak to 19 games. His ability to stretch the floor and be an aggressive scorer is always a key against a defense like Memphis. Meeks is averaging 19 points on 58 percent shooting against the Grizzlies.

Kendall Marshall is seeing his role shrink and shrink in each of the last three games. In those games, Marshall’s minutes have gone down each time, and he is averaging only 2.3 points (19.3 percent shooting) and 6.3 assists per game. Part of the reason Marshall’s effectiveness has gone down is because of Kent Bazemore. Marshall has done a great job in finding teammates open around the perimeter for open shots, but Bazemore attacks the rim nearly every time he touches the ball. It remains to be seen if this is just a funk or if Marshall’s days of having monster games are over.

Tony Allen is only two games back from missing 21 straight games, and has seen his role increase after just one game. Allen is Memphis’ big boost off the bench and is part of the reason why they are so good on defense. Against the Lakers this season, Allen is averaging 14 points (63 percent shooting), 6.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists.

Mar Gasol is coming off his highest two-game scoring effort since before he injured his knee in November (32 points). Gasol isn’t quite as effective as he was before he went down, but he is getting there. Memphis just hopes he can step it up for a playoff run. In one game against the Lakers, Gasol had a solid all-around game: 18 points (40 percent shooting), eight rebounds, eight assists, three blocks and three steals.

Key Players:

Pau Gasol hasn’t played more than 29 minutes in the last three games, but that probably won’t be the case. In those games, Gasol’s numbers might not look as impressive as they have been recently, but that’s just because he hasn’t been playing in the mid-30-minute range. Gasol will be ready to play against his brother tonight, and is averaging 15.5 points (54 percent shooting) and 11 rebounds in two games against Memphis.

Will Kent Bazemore create yet another new career-high in scoring tonight? It’s not an odd question considering he has done it in each of his three games with the team. Bazemore has brought another scoring dynamic to a team that really needs it at the moment, and it looks like Mike D’Antoni has given him the green light to just go out and play. In games wearing purple and gold, Bazemore has averaged 18.3 points on 46 percent shooting.

After missing seven games, Mike Conley is averaging 15.7 points (36 percent shooting), 4.7 rebound and four assists in three games. Obviously, Conley is shaking off some rust and will return to his true form sooner than later. Prior to the injury, Conley was playing great basketball: 18 straight double-digit scoring performances with five games of 25 points or more. Conley did not play well in his one meeting against the Lakers: 11 points (27 percent shooting) and seven assists.

Zach Randolph has been a monster this season – in fact – the forward is averaging a double-double: 17.3 points (46 percent shooting) and 10.3 rebounds. Randolph doesn’t get the amount of praise he deserves, but he is the spine of his team. Randolph has also been a Laker killer this season: average of 23 points (45 percent shooting), 13.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in two games against them.

Expected Starting Lineups:

Lakers:
Kendall Marshall
Jodie Meeks
Kent Bazemore
Wesley Johnson
Pau Gasol

Key reserves: Jordan Farmar, Jordan Hill and MarShon Brooks

Grizzlies:
Mike Conley
Courtney Lee
Tayshaun Prince
Zach Randolph
Marc Gasol

Key reserves: Tony Allen and Mike Miller

Lakers (19-37) at Pacers (42-13) Game Preview – 2/25/14

After only winning one of six straight home games, the Los Angeles Lakers travel to Indiana to face the Pacers who hold the league-best record.

It was less than a month ago when the teams met at Staples Center. The Pacers didn’t play their best, but they stayed true to their defensive nature and shut the Lakers down. Since that meeting, the Pacers have only lost four times, whereas the Lakers have only won three times.

If the Lakers are looking for a sign of hope, they can look back at their last two road performances that brought two victories. Granted, they were against two of the worst teams in the league – but some extra confidence wouldn’t hurt. In those two games, the Lakers’ offense was on a roll: averaged 115.5 points on 51.9 percent shooting per game.

Since I just tried to bring some optimism to this team – naturally – I need to cancel it right out. The fact is, the Pacers are not the Cavaliers or the 76ers – the Lakers aren’t going to score 115 points. Indiana is the number one ranked defense in the league and only allows an average of 90.9 points on 41.3 percent shooting per game. It’s going to take big efforts from many Lakers in order to be effective on offense. Back in January, the Pacers held the Lakers to 92 points on only 39.4 percent shooting.

The Lakers were thrilled to get Nick Young back after he missed six games with a knee injury, but it was reported today that Young will not play in the next two road games due to soreness in his knee. This is particularly a big blow for tonight’s game since they would need his scoring. Young’s absence means that we will continue to see a lot more from the new Lakers: Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks.

X-Factors:

Jodie Meeks is in the zone. If he scores at least 16 points tonight, it would be the 10th straight game he hits that feat – he’s previous season-best was only four straight games. In the three games back from injury, Meeks is averaging 18 points on 48 percent shooting. In the first meeting with Indiana, Meeks tied a team-high with 21 points on 44 percent shooting.

Before joining the Lakers, Kent Bazemore’s career-high was 14 points – he has surpassed that in his first two games with Los Angeles. After impressing Mike D’Antoni with his first game, Bazemore found himself in the starting lineup and is averaging 16 points on 48 percent shooting with the team. It will be interesting to see if this is just a fluke or if Bazemore can actually be a consistently good player. For right now, Bazemore can just adds his name to the list of combo guards that have been their best when D’Antoni was their coach.

Jordan Hill has seen consistent minutes in the last four games, and during that time he is averaging 10.3 points (60.3 percent shooting) and 7.8 rebounds per game. It’s nice to see Hill put together another nice streak of productivity after he has been streaky all year. Hill had a solid performance previously against the Pacers with 10 points (50 percent shooting) and 12 rebounds.

Roy Hibbert has emerged as one of the best centers in the game, but he hasn’t done much this month. In the 11 games in February, Hibbert is only averaging 8.3 points (43 percent shooting), 6.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocks. Hibbert must be much better if the Pacers are going to achieve the goals they have set. Hibbert had 11 points (46 percent shooting) and 10 rebounds in the first meeting against the Lakers.

David West has been solid all year for Indiana, but he has really stepped up his play this month. In February, West is averaging 17.9 points (58 percent shooting) and 6.6 rebounds. West is scoring at an extremely efficient rate and has scored his season-high of 30 two times in the past couple of weeks – including the Pacers most recent game. The Pacers can really struggle on offense at times, so West’s recent success is quite the boost.

Key Players:

Some were worried that Pau Gasol would return from injury a little rusty, but the seven-footer has only continued his stellar play. In Gasol’s last 18 games – dating back to 12/31 – he is averaging 21 points (51.8 percent shooting) and nine rebounds. This has to be the best stretch Gasol has had in the past few seasons, and it’s understandable that the Lakers were not willing to basically give him up for nothing like some fans were hoping for. Gasol has talked about his excitement on testing free agency this summer, so he knows how important this final stretch of the season is for his future. Gasol had a great game against the Pacers this year: 21 points (53 percent shooting) and 13 rebounds.

Kendall Marshall has proven how effective he is when he gets a lot of minutes, but in the past two games he is playing an average of 24 minutes which has led to him averaging 3.5 points (29 percent shooting) and 7.5 assists during that time. In the last five games where Marshall has played at least 35 minutes, the point guard averaged 13.6 points (55 percent shooting) and 13.8 assists. Marshall must be a big part of the offense tonight in order for them to be successful. In the first meeting with Indiana, Marshall had 11 points (46 percent shooting) and 13 assists.

Ah, the engine of the Pacers- Lance Stephenson. Stephenson is a hard player to put a finger one because some nights he is just another player, but then on other nights he can look like the best player on the floor at times. On the season, Stephenson is averaging 14.2 points (50 percent shooting), 7.3 rebounds and 5.2 assists. He also had a huge game against the Lakers earlier this year: 15 points (67 percent shooting) 14 rebounds, six assists and two steals. He has failed to score double-digit points only once in his last 22 games.

Paul George had a terrible game against the Lakers a month ago – 14 points (19 percent shooting), five rebounds and six assists. George is a Los Angeles guy and had a lot of people at the game for him, so maybe he was just too pressured into doing a lot. However, the Lakers shouldn’t expect a similar performance from the All-Star. George is playing at a very high level recently, and is averaging 31 points (50 percent shooting, 57.1 percent on three-pointers) and six rebounds. George will be looking to have a big game.

Expected Starting Lineups

Lakers:
Kendall Marshall
Jodie Meeks
Kent Bazemore
Wesley Johnson
Pau Gasol

Key reserves: Jordan Farmar, Jordan Hill and MarShon Brooks

Pacers:
George Hill
Lance Stephenson
Paul George
David West
Roy Hibbert

Key reserves: Luis Scola and C.J. Watson

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