With their matchup set with the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs, the Lakers head into the series as the underdog.
Playing without Kobe Bryant for the past two games, the Lakers have defeated two playoff teams and showed signs of life. As game one is set to tip-off on Sunday, we asked Lakers Nation which player needs to step-up in Bryant’s absence:
From the poll it’s evident that Dwight Howard needs to continue his recent strong play if the Lakers are to upset the Spurs. In his past two games, Howard averaged 21 points, 17.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks. His energy on defense has picked up and Howard has been more engaged on the offensive end.
Coming in second, Pau Gasol received 25 percent of the vote as the Spaniard had a triple double on Wednesday and has gotten more touches without Kobe on the court. Gasol has controlled the glass, averaging 18 rebounds as he and Howard seem to be finally gaining chemistry both offensively and defensively.
Steve Blake only received 10 percent of the vote, but with Steve Nash supposedly coming back for Game 1, it will be interesting to see what his role will be going forward. Blake has been sensational without Kobe, averaging 23.5 points and knocking down an average of four three-pointers in the past two games.
Regardless of what the poll said, each player needs to step-up against the Spurs. While the Lakers lost three out of four to the Spurs, the three games they lost were winnable contests.
If Howard continues to play with the intensity he’s shown in the past two games and Blake scores from the perimeter, the Lakers definitely have a chance to upset the Spurs.
In case you missed it, be sure to check out what Antawn Jamison said about facing the Spurs without Kobe Bryant!
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