By Ryan Matsuura (@RyanKMatsuura5)
- Tip Off: 7:30 PM PST
- Television: CSNBayHD
Los Angeles Lakers Team Profile
- Offensive Efficiency: 101.7 (19th in NBA)
- Defensive Efficiency: 103.6 (19th in NBA)
Scope the Opposition: Forum Blue and Gold.
Preview: When Kobe Bryant put out this video, Warriors and Bay Area Lakers fans circled December 21 as a chance to increase the intensity of a dormant rivalry. But instead, the climate has changed for both teams. Warriors turned in arguably their most disappointing effort of the season in a loss to the short-handed San Antonio Spurs and the Lakers will be Mamba-less for the next six weeks.
Are the Warriors “Going to be Fine?”
Mark Jackson has said at numerous times at the post-game presser, “We’re going to be fine, but (fill in the blank).” However, December has proved to generate more questions than answers. Will the Warriors get back to defending the 3-point line? Will they avoid these offensive dry spells when the flow of the game stops? Are the Warriors just a turnover-prone team or can they play at a more efficient clip?
A glaring box score stat from Thursday’s loss vs San Antonio besides the 24 combined turnovers: ZERO combined free throw attempts from Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. While Curry often drives to dish, there’s no excuse for the 6’7″ Thompson to keep settling for jumpers when they aren’t falling. Jordan Hill and Pau Gasol aren’t the most intimidating rim protectors in the league, so tonight would be a good time to get back to attacking and trying to get to the line.
Mike D’Antoni is trying to hold this roster together with duct tape while Bryant and his three point guards (Nash, Blake, and Farmar) are all sidelined with injury. Kendall Marshall, the only true healthy point guard on the roster, was signed out D-League earlier this week and spent all 48 minutes sandwiched between Steve Blake and assistant coach Mark Madsen on the Laker bench. Xavier Henry played the de-facto ballhandler role while Gasol proved to be an efficient playmaker in the half court in their 104-91 win over Minnesota last night. Nick Young’s stepbacks were falling en route to a 25-point effort and look for him to keep shooting off the bench. The Lakers also received some positive minutes from Chris Kaman and Shawne Williams off the bench, especially Williams’ defense on Kevin Love down the stretch.
What to Look For
- Cross match-ups on both sides. The long, rangy Wes Johnson could be an option to check Curry, while Jackson will probably try to keep Curry fresh and stick him on the floor-spacer Jodie Meeks. The Warriors will need to hunt for 3s to punish the Lakers in transition.
- Time to unleash Toney Douglas. Remember when he went down in November and Detroit’s Will Bynum turned Kent Bazemore into a walking turnover? The Warriors need a spark from the bench in the worst way and Douglas picking up Henry in the backcourt could provide that energy.
- Mark Jackson’s rotation. The Warriors starters, to put it bluntly, have a huge talent advantage tonight so who will effectively come off the bench to keep Jackson from having to play his starters 40+ minutes again? Nemanja Nedovic tore up the D-League again last night and deserves playing-time over Kent Bazemore at this point. The Warriors need someone off the bench who can penetrate the defense and kick to open shooters, especially since Young and other Laker defenders can get caught over-helping and staring at the ball. Internally, it appears only Nedovic could potentially fill that role.
Draymond Green vs. Nick Young. The Warriors haven’t been disciplined in recent games of identifying shooters, especially bench scorers (see Marco Belinelli). Young is in the discussion for 6th Man of the Year and leads the Lakers in scoring at 15.3 PPG. Green, while prone to reaching against guys who attack the hoop, challenges shooters very well. He’ll have to keep Young from getting good looks early.
Odds and Ends
- Today was essentially Christmas for all Sneakerheads as the Jordan XI Gamma Blue was released today. My money’s on Nick Young to be sporting those kicks.
- Vegas Line: Golden State (-13); O/U: 207.
- Tonight is the 5th home game of a stretch where the Warriors play 7 of 9 at home. The Warriors are 2-2 so far.