Still three games behind the Houston Rockets for the eighth seed in the West, the Los Angeles Lakers (22-26) take their talents to Brooklyn to face the Nets (28-19).
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The two teams previously met this year in Los Angeles, where the Lakers won 95-90 in Mike D’Antoni‘s debut for the team. You can look back on that game with our Lakerholicz game report.
Unfortunately, the Lakers come into the game shorthanded due to Dwight Howard’s shoulder injury (third straight missed game), and Metta World Peace‘s one game suspension for an altercation at Detroit that can be seen here.
Gasol has been asked to be the starting center the past two games (someone Gasol smiles) while Howard has been injured. Gasol has not hesitated to express his displeasure of playing time and usage, but over the last two games he is getting exactly what he wants, and he is also proving he is right with his criticism by his productivity. In the last two games, Gasol is averaging 22.5 points on 54% shooting and also 11 rebounds a game. If the Lakers want to leave the borough with a victory, Gasol will have to be a big reason for it.
Williams has had a somewhat disappointing year, but he is still an elite point guard. On the season, Williams is averaging 17 points and 8 assists a game. Williams is the focal point for the Nets, and his teammates rely on his play. Other players for the Nets like Brook Lopez can change the game, but they need Williams to help them produce. Recently, Mike D’Antoni decided Kobe Bryant should be the one to guard top point guards, and tonight looks like just the case. Bryant has shut down multiple players this year, and for the sake of the Lakers, hopefully he does the same to Williams.
KEY TO A LAKERS VICTORY
With starters Dwight Howard and Metta Word Peace out of the game, bench players like Pau Gasol and Atawn Jamison have been put in the starting line up, and that takes a lot of production away from the bench. Players that have not seen many minutes this year like Robert Sacre and Devin Ebanks could possibly play valuable minutes tonight, and they must make the most of it for a victory.
PROJECTED STARTING LINE-UPS
Los Angeles Lakers
PG: Steve Nash
SG: Kobe Bryant
SF: Earl Clark
PF: Antawn Jamison
C: Pau Gasol
PG: Deron Williams
SG: Joe Johnson
SF: Gerald Wallace
PF: Reggie Evans
C: Brook Lopez
The game tips off at 4:30 pm PST on NBA TV.