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Things to watch in Lakers-Warriors matchup

1. The Lakers may not completely replicate their dominance over the Cavaliers, but they should continue fostering the good habits they displayed in that effort. The Lakers' 112-57 victory over Cleveland is a record for a reason. And even if the Warriors aren't considered that tough of an opponent, Golden State is much tougher compared to Cleveland. Besides completely winning every statistical category against Cleveland, the Lakers appeared hungry in perfecting various nuances throughout the game. The main ingredients entail how much the Lakers can maintain their sharp offensive chemistry and new defensive scheme.

The Warriors will be a good test in that regard because they're a fast-paced team and the tendency to get in a track meet with them can have a spiraling effect. It can first begin with the Lakers rushing their sets, becoming trigger-happy and then becoming dysfunctional on defense as Golden State runs the open court. The San Francisco Chronicle's Rusty Simmons reported that Warriors guard Monta Ellis has flulike symptoms, but he hasn't missed a game all season and has consistently kept his season average of 25.2 points, 5.6 assists and 3.5 rebounds a game at an even keel. Stephen Curry's presence adds more speed and a shooting touch to the backcourt. In the last 10 games, Golden State forward Dorell Wright has averaged 21.7 points on 53% shooting and a 49% clip from three-point range. And believe it or not, Coach Keith Smart's decision to move David Lee to center and former Laker Vladimir Radmanovic has paid dividends. This isn't a typo. This note isn't either. Radmanovic, routinely described by Lakers Coach Phil Jackson as a "space cadet," fired back, saying, "he's kind of a space cadet of his own" showing his feistiness has gone beyond firing at teammates for poor play or scuffling with the Clippers' Baron Davis.

Fortunately for the Lakers, they discovered in their 109-87 victory Sunday against New York that they can run a deliberate but fast-paced offense while still remaining disciplined on defense against the league's top scoring team. The Lakers can surely duplicate that kind of effort against the Warriors (9th in scoring with 101.7 points) based on their recent play, but repetition proves key in maintaining consistency.

2. The Lakers respond well on second night of back-to-backs

The Lakers have gone 6-0 in those games this season. Many of them came on convincing fashion. In the Lakers' 112-100 victory Nov. 3 against Sacramento, they closed out a close fourth quarter. In the Lakers' 103-90 victory Nov. 17 over the Detroit Pistons, the Lakers put the game away early. A 5-1 mid-December trip included victories against the Wizards and Pacers on consecutive nights, with the latter victory coming after the Lakers were angry that Indiana celebrated fairly loudly following an upset victory earlier. The Lakers followed a devastating loss Dec. 28 to San Antonio with a 180-turnaround against New Orleans. And the Lakers maintained their sharp play in consecutive victories against Detroit and Phoenix last week. The only clunker was a one-point victory against the Clippers. But with all the Lakers starters with exception to Pau Gasol resting the entire fourth quarter against Cleveland, the Lakers should have more than enough energy against Golden State.

3. The Lakers front line will prove too dominating: This will likely be a story for every Lakers opponent, considering the Lakers have gone 7-1 since Andrew Bynum has returned to the starting lineup, Lamar Odom has rarely had an off night this season and Gasol seems to be hitting his stride again. But the Warriors' past matchups with the Lakers show they have absolutely no answer for the Lakers' size, and that was without Bynum in the lineup. In the Lakers' 117-89 victory Nov. 21 against the Warriors, Gasol became the sixth Laker in franchise history with a perfect stat line when attempting at least 10 shots, posting 28 points on 10-of-10 shooting and an eight-of-eight clip from the free-throw line. Lee was absent in one game and scoreless in another. And Gasol and Odom each recorded double doubles in the Lakers' 107-83 victory Oct. 31 against the Warriors. 

4. Can Steve Blake improve his shooting stroke? Blake has found an instant comfort level with the triangle offense. His quick study into a system that usually takes more time for most to master, his pass-first mentalities and his overall court awareness has fostered the bench's chemistry like none other. One thing that has been noticeably absent, however, involves his shooting stroke. He hasn't scored in double figures since Dec. 3. There's been a clear drop-off in shooting percentage from November to December (41.7%, 33.3%) and he's averaging 3.7 points a game.Blake doesn't need to start becoming the next Kobe Bryant, but a strong shooting performance may be what's needed to jump-start his offense. Shooting against a team that's 28th in the league in points given up  (105.9 a game), allows opponents to shoot 47% from the field and 37% from downtown might do the trick. 

--Mark Medina

Twitter.com/latmedina

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

 
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**REPOST**

Hmmm let me test the waters before I enter the latest Drew discussion (Dipping toe in water…well its frozen here in Michigan so maybe I should stay out, but here goes)


Drew is gettting the bulk of the praise on the blog for the Lakers improved play. Yes, he deserves his share of the credit, but so does the new defensive scheme and the Lakers "re-dedication" to playing defense.


If all the other pieces were in place but Kobe, Pau or LO was out of the lineup and just returning (like Drew is).....and all of the above factors were in place...I believe the Lakers would be showing similar or more incremental improvement.


Theo played in 8 games this season avg 8 min per game. The Lakers were 8-0 in those games. Drew has started in 8 games avg 28 mpg. The Lakers are 7-1 in those games. The Laker gave up 99.6 ppg with Theo and are giving up 88.6 in games Drew started. Remove Drew from the team an insert Theo in his minutes and the Lakers are not a championship team.


Like I posted a few days ago...remove Kobe, Pau, LO or Drew from this team and they're not a championship team....possible Ron Ron fits into that category as well.


Yes, some are going overboard with their praise for Drew (hype) and I can understand a backlash if this persists, but consider LO has got major props on the blog all season. Kobe always gets his due...he's the only name that various people have in their blog name. Pau gets universal praise from the basketball world. This is Drew's time in the sun and I understand his strongest supporters rejoicing in it like proud parents.

Posted by: LRob | January 12, 2011 at 05:07 PM

LRob - are you a proud parent too...or are you going to stay on the fence...and watch the boys slug it out...just curious...

If I am one the guilty of over praise...it's understandable from all the AB bashing we have had to endure since the summer...

I'll refer back to your post about no one is above the team...But on the same breath...I love this current squad...

Lakers Dynasty - The Next Generation...

#17 Coming Up!!!

Like I posted a few days ago...remove Kobe, Pau, LO or Drew from this team and they're not a championship team....possible Ron Ron fits into that category as well.

===========================================

I am going to add Fish too, Screw the haters!!!!!!

Love your spirit Diandra...

LRob

The detractors blow out of proportion the extent to which the supporters credit Bynum with the team's recent success. They regale in doing that. The supporters, generally, are tickled pink to watch his progress and to envision his future and know full well ... as you do ... that with Bynum playing at a high level, the Lakers are a championship caliber team. Of course if you remove any of the other core players, it takes us down a notch, just like it does to the Chowds if Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Garnett or Rondo do down. No way they make it to the NBA Finals without all of them relatively healthy.

As for "going overboard with their praise," there is every reason to get excited about his daily improvement because we are seeing a glimpse of his potential. I don't think one can go too overboard about watching this boy turn into a man. What you are missing here is the agenda behind those who are leading the deliberate backlash. That is called dishonesty because these bloggers have had an anti-Bynum agenda which existed long before you and I started posting on here.

Any Lakers fan who watched Bynum dominate MVP candidate Amar'e Stoudemire the other night .. and I had the honor and pleasure of watching it in person .. SHOULD be grinning from ear to ear with what they are witnessing right now. As for this being Andrew's "time in the sun," even some of his most ardent supporters didn't expect him to be this far along so quickly after he came back from his injury, so of course that's a pleasant surprise. It's not just his day-to-day physical improvement both from a strength and agility standpoint, but there is a noticeable increase in his IQ as well. This justifiable excitement does not, however, in any way take away from what we are witnessing from a realistic and practical standpoint in terms of how much he changes and improves the dynamic of this team. To a man, every player on the Lakers would agree with that, as would our world championship coaching staff. Only another injury could do that.

PRE GAME POST

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LAKERS BLOG ROLL CALL
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[_|___|__|___|__|__|__|__|__|_\
|___ LAKERS 3PEAT BUS _\__\__\
l_________________________--|
\_(O)-(O)____________(O)-(O)__/

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Game Day Prayer Temp - Can I get an Amen?
TidalWave - ---> Let's enjoy this team while we can!!!

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GAME DAY PRAYER
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Many of you have made requests for a game day prayer. Your wish is my command. As I do not want to offend anyone of certain faiths, I have included several divine beings from the skies above.

Now let us pray.

Dear God, Jesus, Allah, Vishnu, Zeus, Ra, The Golden Calf, Buddha, The Alien Greys, The Reptilians, and Sam Cassell,

We ask that you use your divine powers to grant us, not world peace, not the end of world hunger, not even the destruction of the TV show, Jersey Shore. We ask only for a Laker victory. We know you don't concern yourself with resolving such petty issues as world peace and poverty, as these problems have existed for thousands of years, and have yet to be resolved. We do know that you care about the Lakers, as you have blessed them like no other, and have have granted them back to back titles. We pray for another Laker victory tonight for your favorite team. You may hear similar prayers coming out of Northern California asking for a Warriors victory, but I beg of you, oh divine one, ignore their silly prayers, and listen only to ours. We thank you in advance.

Can I get an Amen?
Posted by: Game Day Prayer Temp | January 12, 2011 at 11:41 AM

Thanks for all your hard work, LEWSTRS!!!

Temp.....nice GDP!

Dallas just lost to Indiana in Indiana. Lakers are now in 2nd place in the Western Conference.

LEWSTRS -

Checking in for roll call. I may or may not make the game tonight, but just wanted to offer some support - been a while since I've posted, and the adjustment (school and time) took a bit out of me.

My 2 cents on Socks -

I'm happy he's back and starting to fulfill his potential. I'm happy he's playing defense and rotating with energy. I'd like for him to rebound more, but if he helps by boxing out someone so that LO or Pau or anyone else can get it (if her can't), I'm fine with it. I want him to be part of a unit that holds teams to one-and-done possessions. I want him to continue to communicate loudly and assertively on defense. I liked the fact that he didn't shy away from contact against NY. I enjoyed his poster on Amar'e. I want him to be healthy. I don't think he's a savior, but an important piece, and sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I want him to mix it up on D and to be chippy while being in control.

Most importantly, I want him to understand that there really is no time like the present - seize the opportunity to excel, embrace the challenge of "bringing it" every single day (game or practice), and to understand that he can be a part of a long and storied tradition of centers that have played for the Lakers. I want him to feel that now is his time to help push the team to a championship, and I want him to act decisively on that fact.

Hope you all are having a great Wednesday!

What up bronx- I hit you back about the post. Can't argue with your rationale, brother. I wish he'd stick to just Basketball. I also wanted to say, I think people should just tune him out when it comes to the social media thing.

To be upfront and honest, I don't listen to Spike Lee when it comes to Basketball. When he said 'Larry Bird, is overrated', he went beyond homer and into the ignorance stratosphere. Would he say Larry Bird is overrated if Larry won 3 MVP's and 3 titles with the Knicks? No, no he wouldn't. Props to Reggie Miller for putting this guy in his place.

Cali...nice post!

Theo Ratliff was signed as insurance against Bynum's recovery from surgery. That should tell something about the pecking order of Laker bigs.

LEW- THANKS! AND thanks for doing all the roll call stuff, mamba24s presence is greatly missed!!!

Bronxlakerfan- GREAT NEWS! I give the pacers 3-5 years to be out on top again once this younger team matures.

Cali- I know what you mean about school, it's crazy for me too, luckily the first week isn't as bad as say March or April! Good luck in your studies. Hope to see you more, love your positive attitude on team defence, boxing out and drew!

Lakers are in second place in Western conference standings. They are four games back of S.A. and S.A. next four include Denver, Dallas, and Knicks. While Lakers next four are Golden state, nets, clippers and Thunder. I think we stand a good chance of improving to 2 games behind S.A. over next few games which would put us in good standing to take over top seed before playoffs begin and hold on to it.

Hey, Sean...a civil exchange of ideas is cool. I always welcome that. A friend of mine used to work for Spike Lee and about the nicest thing he could say about Spike is that he was a really cheap son-of-a-gun! LOL!

Agreed, LBJ should keep his trap shut. Right now, he's way too controversial. Take care, brother!

@Lew - I wouldn't say I'm a proud parent, but I'm certainly happy for Drew's success and I'm glad he's embracing the defensive end of the court. There was never any question in my mind about his offense.


As you know I was in the minority in saying I felt he deserved the vacation before starting rehab...so yes I'm happy its paying off so far. But the beast label is over the top to me. There's only one of them at the center position and he's in Orlando. BTW...he's played in 523 of 524 games.

It's not just his day-to-day physical improvement both from a strength and agility standpoint, but there is a noticeable increase in his IQ as well. This justifiable excitement does not, however, in any way take away from what we are witnessing from a realistic and practical standpoint in terms of how much he changes and improves the dynamic of this team.

Posted by: KobeMVP888 | January 12, 2011 at 05:48 PM
----------------
MVP - Agreed! The immediate goal of winning the chip this year can be accomplished with Drew playing at his current level.


But as Kobe, LO, Ron game decline with age....and Riles and Co in South Beach add more pieces...Drew's development and commitment is vital to keeping the Lakers at the top. This will be very exciting to watch unfold.

KobeMVP888,

you wrote: Really? So hypothetically, if Andrew plays 25 minutes and grabs only 7 rebounds and Lamar plays 28 minutes and grabs 18 rebounds and Gasol plays 41 minutes and grabs 14 rebounds, does that tell the story of Bynum not working hard, trying hard or playing well?

And I disagree with your comment that "without stats the story can't be told." This isn't baseball where stats are a much greater measuring stick than either basketball or football. They are helpful at most, but can be extremely misleading. The above hypothetical were actual rebounding statistics from the Knicks game the other night. Not only did Bynum work his tail off in that came, he was a huge difference maker because he dominated their MVP candidate. His fundamentals were sound, which included boxing out which helped allow gasol and Odom to glass when they were on the floor with Bynum.

my response:

So how are you going to tell the story without stats?

How many minutes did Bynum play? Oh, wait. That's a stat.

Did the Lakers win? Oh, wait. That's a stat.

How many trips to the foul line did Kobe take? Crap, another stat.

Who is shooting the highest fg%? *sigh* Another stat.

Curses! Can someone please make these stats go away?!?!?!?!?!


Picture if you will, Bynum on a basketball court all alone. There are no
stats. Just Bynum standing in the spot light.....

KobeMVP888 says: "Hobbitmage, stats don't tell the story. Bynum is having
a MONSTER GAME"

Hobbitmage says: How many points did he score?

KobeMVP888 says: Points? Points don't count. Those are stats. Look at
all of the shots he's altering just by being on the court. His length is
incredible!

Hobbitmage says: There's no one playing basketball .....

KobeMVP888 says: There you go again with those stupid facts. Look, this
is the important part for you to get. Bynum is a monster. A veritable beast.
His very presence on the court changes everything. I don't care who he's
playing against or if he's healthy or if there's even a game. He's a frickin'
beast and *I* say he's changing the game even if there's no game being
played! Take your stupid stats and stuff 'em. He changes everything even
if there's no one else around.

hobbitmage

OK, have the last word with that asinine post of yours. It's such an utter exaggeration and distortion of the points I made just to appease your Half-Empty Club brothers and your own half-baked ego, and so in the gutter, that it doesn't even merit a stupid response.

Look at the stats of last nights game...

Kobe blew up in the stats w/ 39 points...

But it was LO that got us back and won this game....

But to the 'The Stats Freaks" it was Kobe that won this game...

because 'stats' don't lie...

LMFAO....next!


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