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Five things to watch in Lakers' matchup with Golden State

1. Kobe Bryant's pacing -- One of the reasons why Lakers Coach Phil Jackson left pleased with Bryant's performance in the team's 114-106 victory Friday over the Phoenix Suns didn't just involve his stat line. Sure, his team-leading 25 points on a nine of 19 clip, seven rebounds and three assists in 34 minutes shows he's contributing. But he did it at an efficient pace where he wasn't pushing himself too hard.

"He was on cruise last night," Jackson said Saturday after practice at the team's facility in El Segundo. "He went through the game and measured it up as hard as he had to and I think that was good. We have plenty of games coming up and the more games we can keep at that speed, the better off we are."

The next step entails to what degree he can keep level with that pacing and whether he can step it up a notch or two on defense without pushing too far. It will surely be tempting to drop lots of points tonight against Golden State, the "Pop a Shot" version of NBA basketball. But it's not going to reveal as much as the movement and pacing Bryant makes.

2. Everyone will score aplenty -- Ever since Warriors Coach Keith Smart took over for Don Nelson, he had pledged to become a more deliberate defensive team, at least much more than the Nelson-run teams that played offense with a 10-second shot clock and played defense as if it was an annoyance. THe Warriors appear slightly improved defensively as they've stormed out to a 2-0 record. They average a league-leading 120 points per game, but concede 109.5 points per contest, third worst in the NBA. But they held the Clippers to 38.6% shooting Friday in their 109-91 victory after allowing Houston to score 128 points.  The Lakers aren't too far behind with a second-ranked 113 points per game and have allowed 109.5 PPG thus far.

These statistics will eventually offset at this point, but certainly not tonight. So  those wondering if they're in for free tacos tonight will be disappointed. But for those wondering if there will be highlight reels, ranging from alley-oop dunks, beautiful backdoor cuts and impressive fall-away jumpers, you're in for a treat. These plays may not necessarily mean much against a team that doesn't play defense, but it will still be fun to watch.

3. Will the Lakers control the pace? -- Because of the fast pace Golden State presents, it will be tempting for the Lakers to repeat their push-the-pace type performance, much like they did against Phoenix. The Lakers (2-0) should certainly exploit defensive lapses, but I frankly don't see much value in doing so. Hoisting three-pointers will distract the Lakers from honing their offensive concepts. Running up and down the floor will require much more energy than necessary in a game that's hard to draw from, considering Golden State's weak standing in the league and since very few teams play like the Warriors. Plus, the Lakers are playing four games this week, including Tuesday against Memphis, Wednesday at Sacramento and Friday against Toronto.

4. The Lakers must sharpen up on defense -- Another reason the Lakers should play more of a deliberate offense that emphasizes work in the paint entails the team's need to improve defensively. For a team that allowed 97 PPG last season, it's not exactly impressive that the Lakers have conceded in the first two games an average of 108 points. The statistic is a tad misleading considering Houston and Phoenix are high-octane teams that also didn't show much defensively.

But the Lakers' shot selection, so-so rebounding effort and lack of speed contributed to both Houston and Phoenix cashing in on transition baskets and drives to the lane. The Lakers surely could use some time to sharpen up on rotations. Though Warriors guard Stephen Curry won't play tonight because of a sprained right ankle, playmakers such as Monta Ellis can give the Lakers fits if they don't remain disciplined.

5. Sasha Vujacic and Devin Ebanks may see playing time tonight. -- Ebanks and Vujacic have yet to make an appearance in the regular season, but Jackson floated the possibility that they will see some time, perhaps against Golden State. The Warriors view tonight's contest as a revenge game for the Lakers defeating them in overtime in the preseason. Their 2-0 record marks the team's best start since the 1994-95 season. But I don't forsee this contest being close at all. So it's very conceivable the entire Lakers roster will contribute on some end.

Both Ebanks and Vujacic will need to play without thinking they have something to prove. Ebanks perfected that well in the preseason, impressing the likes of Jackson, Bryant an Artest with his unassuming work ethic and effort on defense. Vujacic has been known to try to use any minute given to him to try to showcase to the coaching staff that he should be playing more. Individual performances during garbage minutes reveal very little, but it does reveal bad things if players make mistakes or blow a lead.

-- Mark Medina

Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

 
Comments () | Archives (19)

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MM / anyone - are the Lakers going to challenge that tech call on Barnes from last game?

justa???????????

@2Phatt - Great vid on Chick...I sure miss him...I know he is up in Purple Heaven with a big smile on his face about this current team...

@LRob and 63 Footer - The common denominator on my set this morning was not the Beatles, but more of all the selections were from my second favorite Beatles album...Abbey Road...second only to my favorite...The White Album...

A special selection for you both...

LRob (The Master DJ) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qe1ScoePqVA

63 Footer (Rock Historian) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lKSRHoNFIQ
*did you agree with the top 10 selections*

If I'm giving out love...can't leave out my number one brother...

@Mamba24 - For all the LOVE you spread on these pages...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JErVP6xLZwg

And to the rest of the Nation...This man is in the top 5 on my list, for best voice ever...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcrfvP11Hbo

Not your cup of tea...well here is another top 5, maybe more to your taste...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5pUOVC50Y8&feature=artistob&playnext=1&videos=GUFp-jU8Y2A

Lakers Dynasty - The Next Genration...

#17 Coming Up!!!

ouchhhhhhhh??

Dinner and a Laker Game.

Lakers by 8pts

Ghostly Spooky Win

Booo

GSW

Happy Sunday frank -

When are you and the family coming back up to Vegas...

I will be in Chatsworth in the end of Nov...

Lakers Dynasty - The Next Generation...

#17 Coming Up!!!

just wanted to make sure that "Ladies First" is there. i'm feeling guilty when i put up the "first" post.

LOL - don't worry ouchhhhh - I was first. Again. As usual.

:)


LEWSTRS - yup, all from Abbey Road (maybe my favorite)... and, I didn't put 2 + 2 together on it at all. Well, I might have, but 4 was definitely not the answer I came up with. Next we have to try 10 great Lakers moments represented by 10 great Beatles songs. I'll start: 63 Foot shot by Jerry West to tie Game 3 '70's Finals game:

Jerry: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NCwBYubFvM&feature=related
Beatles: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMF54aF9Vjk

Top 10 rock songs... I don't do that ranking thing, but they were all great songs and all belong there. I think if I had to do my Top 10, it would encompass about 100 songs.

This is the one thing that worries me:

80 Total minutes played by Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, necessitated by the absence of Andrew Bynum. Theo Ratliff offered eight minutes off the bench as the only backup big to see action, though Artest and Matt Barnes did see some time at the power forward position.

I wish PJ could cut down some minutes for both, till AB comes back...We don't want to burn out 2 of our best weapons...

Lakers Dynasty - The Next Generation...

#17 Coming Up!!!

Only a franchise as completely irrelevant as the Warriors could treat this game as potential "revenge" for a PRESEASON game.

Hmmm, with both teams sitting at 2-0, 1st place in the Pacific division is actually up for grabs tonight!

ms with the good stuff.

Go Lakers!!

BLaker is a definite upgrade over Farmar...

Yes they pretty much averaged about 7 pts last year...but BLaker averaged 3 more assist per game...

Plus the biggest factor...BLaker don't have them huge Dumbo ears...so he takes up less space on the floor...which is very important in the spacing in the triange...

LMAO...

Lakers Dynasty - The Next Generation...

#17 Coming Up!!!

@JAMF - It was never asked really. But if the Lakers were to challenge it, they would've definitely let it be known

"I wish PJ could cut down some minutes for both, till AB comes back...We don't want to burn out 2 of our best weapons..."

Well maybe if Theo didn't look bad on offense (being 37 years old is a reason) and Caracter didn't look like a player overwhelmed by the talent level of the real NBA not the Summer league Phil wouldn't have the need to put heavy minutes on Gasol and Odom.

Same reason he didn't play Farmar as much because of his inconsistent player and putting more minutes on a 35/36 year old man (by NBA standards).

And also LTLF,

I suppose you didn't get the joke. But remember you did post on Farmar in the pre-season about his play against Philadelphia. Well look at how his production was against the Heat and please oh do so tell us about how Avery Johnson again held Jordan Farmar back.

MM - that's too bad. It was a ridiculous call. Now it's gonna count toward the total he's allowed before he gets suspended. That's just wrong.

OK 63 Footer...I'll take your lead...

Great Laker Moment - Beatles Song...entry 2


Lakers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAYAN4ynROk

Beatles: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nnpil_pRUiw

Lakers Dynasty - The Next Generation...

#16 Coming Up!!!


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