Things to watch in Lakers-Warriors game
Some things to keep an eye on when the Lakers (4-4) host the Golden State Warriors (2-4) Friday night at Staples Center.
1. The Lakers and Warriors field less-than-healthy rosters. Lakers forward Josh McRoberts is considered "doubtful" for the Lakers-Warriors game because of his sprained big toe in his left foot. That takes away some hustle plays and much-needed speed on the Lakers' bench. Warriors forward David Lee remains questionable because of an ilness. Guard Stephen Curry surely will miss tonight's game because of a sprained right ankle. And center Andris Biedrins may miss the game after sitting out Thursday's practice because of a sprained right ankle.
2. Laugh at Kwame Brown! OK, so Brown and Biedrins apparently are bolstering the Warriors' interior defense, considering the Warriors now rank in the middle of the pack on total defense instead of the near bottom. But let's be real here. They're no match for Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. With so much uncertainty regarding the Lakers, remember when it was much worse. Gasol scoring on Brown with ease will provide a visual reminder of how great it was for the Lakers to make such a deal that helped spur two consecutive titles and three NBA Finals appearances.
3. Will the Lakers play sloppy? The Lakers have a quick turnaround between their loss to Portland Thursday and the Warriors meet-up Friday night. So much that the Lakers didn't hold any morning shootaround. That will ensure the Lakers feel better rested, but to what degree will it hurt their play? After all, the Lakers' 15.1 turnovers they've averaged through eight games hardly suggests they're able to clean it up yet.
4. The Lakers need to defend Monta Ellis correctly. Given Ellis' nature, it's more than likely he'll take his fair share of shots. Add in Curry's absence, and it's a near guarantee. So it's almost inevitable that Ellis will have a big night, particularly with how he matches up with the Lakers' backcourt in Derek Fisher and Steve Blake. But the Lakers must remain cognizant that they'll remain fine so long as Ellis doesn't have a supporting cast member.
5. The Lakers must clean up their outside shooting. On the bright side, it can't get much worse. The Lakers' zero of 11 shooting from three-point range against Portland marked the first time they've done that since a November game in 2003 against Miami. On the bad side, the Lakers' three-point shooting has remained inconsistent. The Lakers have shot 13.6% in all four of their losses, and even their 31.4% mark during their four wins hardly bodes impressive. It appears the Lakers are mostly taking good shots, so it's promising they remain confident. But it wouldn't hurt for them to take a few closer shots to reestablish rhythm.
-- Mark Medina
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