Who: Charlotte Bobcats vs Los Angeles Lakers
What: NBA Basketball – Bobcats Home Game
When: 7:00 PM ET
Where: Live at Time Warner Cable Arena
|Charlotte||11-37||98.7 (29)||108.7 (30)||94.4 (14)|
|Los Angeles Lakers||23-27||105.1 (8)||103.2 (17)||97.2 (4)|
Charlotte: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (OUT)
Los Angeles Lakers: Pau Gasol (OUT)
|PG||Kemba Walker||Steve Nash|
|SG||Gerald Henderson||Kobe Bryant|
|SF||Jeffery Taylor||Metta World Peace|
|PF||Jeff Adrien||Earl Clark|
|C||Bismack Biyombo||Dwight Howard|
|6th Man||Ramon Sessions||Antawn Jamison|
The Lakers have won 6 of their last 8 games and have seemingly righted the ship in route to a playoff push, but tonight presents quite an interesting storyline. For starters, the media has been all over the Dwight-Kobe injury saga and whether or not D12 should play through his shoulder injury. That being said, the media and basketball universe has progressively grown more optimistic that this Lakers team has started to figure some things out and will make a strong push to make the post-season. Tonight is a huge game for the Lakers in the fact that if they drop their 2nd straight game against what seems to be officially the NBA’s worst team, well, it goes without saying that their haters/critics will be out in full force and the full blown pessimism will re-surface for this team. Considering that, I do believe the Bobcats play like a bunch with their hair on fire. Lakers could be in trouble tonight.
1- STATS: In the first thrilling matchup between these two in Los Angeles the Bobcats held the Lakers to under 40% shooting, won the battle on the glass and therefore attempted 7 more FG’s than the Lakers over the course of the game. In that game, D12 pulled down 18 rebounds and Charlotte still owned the glass. Will that trend change tonight and what’s the key stat for both teams to find success?
Spencer: With Gasol out of there lineup, it’s logical to believe that the D’Antoni style of basketball can exist more freely. Without Pau, it’s going to allow the Lakers to spread the floor more and play the true PnR style that Mike D’Antoni loves his teams to play. This would not seemingly bode well for Charlotte, but what will allow the Bobcats to be successful tonight is to sag under PnR’s and close out hard on shooters. Keep Nash and Kobe in front of you Kemba, Hendo & Taylor, forcing them to beat you with jump shots.
Mathew: Points in the paint. The Bobcats must limit Howard’s effectiveness on the offensive boards as well as force him to go to the line when he catches the ball down deep. The absence of Pau Gasol will aid Charlotte’s attempt to compete on the boards and in the paint, as Earl Clark and Metta World Peace – both more perimeter oriented players – should see the bulk of the minutes at the 4 tonight.
Greg: The Lakers are a decent rebounding team, but you’d think Dwight’s recent injury issues might affect that. They were outrebounded by the Celtics last night, 48-43, and Boston isn’t a particularly good team on the boards.
It’s a little surprising, then, that they’ve been relatively consistent whether Dwight is on the floor or not — the Lakers grab 51.7% of all available rebounds when he plays, and 51.2% when he’s sitting. The Lakers are significantly better than the Bobcats with or without him, so I think Charlotte’s edge in the last matchup was probably a fluke.
Instead, I think this’ll come down to free throws. A good chunk of the Bobcats’ offense comes at the stripe, but the Lakers have been very good at avoiding fouls, leading the league in defensive FT/FGA. Charlotte will likely have to find their points elsewhere, which is always a challenge for them.
2- D12: As Dwight Howard returned last night, the Lakers were easily defeated in Boston. Kobe had previously taken on the role of more of a distributor as of late, but last night he ended the game with 0 assist. What’s the deal with this team with D12 in the lineup?
Spencer: It’s clear that Kobe will do whatever it takes to make this team successful. If that means playing a PG type of role, then he has no problem doing that. It’s also clear that Kobe and D12 clash, and often. The Lakers are less of a TEAM with Dwight in the lineup and I don’t really think there’s anyway around that. Dwight is the red headed step child in this D’Antoni system and simply isn’t going to get the touches that he’s happy with. On the same point, Kobe is going to demand that D12 listen to him, because he’s won rings and knows how to achieve the highest amount of success within this game. The dynamic problem with the two things listed above is that Dwight is going to conform to neither of those factors. To me, the Lakers are a worse team with Dwight in the lineup and Pau on the bench/injured. The story ends in LA with D’Antoni getting the ax at the end of the season. Kupchak’ hands are tied and he’s got to find a way to move this franchise forward with D12 — that’ll mean Mike D’Antoni is gone.
Mathew: Quite simply, Dwight Howard does not fit in Mike D’Antoni’s offense. He’s one the few remaining “true” centers in the League, a guy that benefits from operating in the post, which the Lakers do not make a priority. He’s also used to having the offense run through him, which is a tough sell when Kobe Bryant is on the roster. And we can’t forget the health issues (sorry Kobe).
Greg: I think the blame on Dwight is a little overblown. He hasn’t been the transformative player that Lakers fans were expecting, but so far the team’s defense, rebounding, eFG% and TS% have all been better when he’s on the floor. They take a slight step back in offensive rating when he plays (105.7 when he’s on the bench vs. 104.7 when he’s playing), but offense really hasn’t been the team’s issue. He’s been hurt, which is unfortunate, but this team has bigger problems than Dwight.
3- PICK IT: Even the fans in the Staples Center understood that Charlotte threw up all over themselves to squander an 18-point lead in the first game between these two. Do the Bobcats even up the season series tonight?
Spencer: Yes, I do like the Bobcats tonight. This is a young team that gets up for opponents like this and they’ll also be motivated to perform better after the embarrassing loss to Cleveland on Wednesday. This just feels like meltdown mode for the Lakers to me- with Gasol out and a disgruntled D12 back in the lineup, playing through an injury, I just don’t see this going well for the Lakers. Beginning at about 10 PM tonight the burning of this Lakers team from the media will re-ignite. 98-95 Bobcats.
Mathew: No. Yes, the Lakers played terribly last night and lost by 21 to the Boston Celtics. But let’s not forget they had won six of seven before last night, including three straight. And oh yeah, the Bobcats lost by 27 to the Cavs Wednesday night.
Greg: The Lakers had a pretty demoralizing loss to Boston last night, and they’re 3-6 so far this year in back-to-back situations. This will also be their sixth road game since Jan. 29, so their legs are probably pretty dead by now. Despite all that, they have their backs against the wall and match up pretty well with Charlotte. I’m expecting an L.A. win.