Road to the Repeat: Viva Las Vegas!
*Injury Update* No Gasol or Walton tonight. Both with minor nagging injuries.
After throwing it back to the old school last Friday at the Forum, the Lakers are coming off a pre-season beat down of sorts, losing 110-91 to the Golden State Warriors. Tonight, the Lakers (1-1) are in Las Vegas to take on the (0-2) Sacramento Kings at the Thomas and Mack Arena. The Kings bring new coach Paul Westphal and a very young lineup to sin city, one which aside from Kevin Martin has struggled to score in their first two games. Look for the Lakers to push the tempo early and jump out to a big lead against an inexperienced Sacramento team who will likely be looking for their identity for awhile.
While the magical night at the Fab Forum remains a great nostalgic moment, the game soured in the 4th quarter, and showed convincingly that this team is still getting use to playing together again. Ron Artest admitted in the days after the loss that he is still getting acclimated to the triangle offense, but feels that it will only take him a few more practices and perhaps one or two more games to become comfortable. While the Lakers starters and reserves seemed to struggle, there were a few constants which shined through once again from Honda Center to the Forum.
- Andrew Bynum was active early and often: Bynum once again looked strong as he anchored the Lakers offense from the outset. His 19 points on 7-11 shooting led the Lakers for the second game in a row, also grabbing 6 rebounds and 2 blocks to round out the night. It has been great to see Andrew looking healthy and in shape for the first time in what feels like forever. His shots have come in the form of easy baskets created by his teammates, either off penetration or quick passing from a fellow big on the block. While Bynum has not been given many opportunities to work in the post and show off his wide range of post moves, other aspects of his game have been impressive none the less. His strong offense has also been a product of his improvement of his “second jump”, meaning getting back off the ground a second time to work for a rebound. Andrew is quicker and more agile than most NBA centers, which should allow him a decided advantage on the glass, something he must capitalize on. I still maintain that the continued success of Andrew Bynum is the primary key to the Lakers chances for a repeat.
- The point guard reserves still looked impressive- In more limited minutes than the first game of the pre-season Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown showed once again that they are at very least serviceable back up’s to Derek Fisher. As Fish struggle from the field shooting 1-6 in 21 minutes, Farmar stepped in late in the game to hit two big 3′s which gave the Lakers their last shot of momentum before going under. SB12 received less floor time than Farmar, yet while in the game seemed to comfortably run the floor and shot 50% on his FG’s in 11 minutes. As the battle for the future PG starter continues, it will be interesting to watch the furthered development and maturation of our two young guards. Can they continue the work throughout the remainder or the pre-season and be ready to provide significant minutes once October 27th rolls around?
What to watch for in Sin City:
- Two are left standing- On Saturday the Lakers waived Mickael Gelabale, David Monds and Michael Fey from the roster. This came as a big disappointment as I was looking forward to hearing Lawrence Tanter pronounce “Gelabale” at different points this season, what a shame. Regardless, the pre-season roster is starting to get trimmed down for the start of the regular season, and only two wild cards remain; Tony Gaffney and Thomas Kelati. Will either of these two players be able to make the team? While only having limited minutes to judge each player off of, my best guess would be, no. It is unlikey that the Lakers will look to carry more than the 12 man roster, however, if only one were to squeak himself in, Kelati has been more impressive in these first two games, and also seems to have found favor from the coaching staff as seen by some early game minutes.
- Ron Artest – There should be a clicking point when Ron Artest and his new teammates reach a certain comfort level with the play of the other. It may not be tonight in Vegas, but Lakers Nation will be anxiously awaiting for this moment to arrive. Thus far Ron has stayed out of the spot light and kept a very cool head on the court in both games, despite having the opportunity to wild out and let Stephen Jackson have it during the game at the Forum. One thing we know for sure, Ron is excited to be playing…in Vegas that is (see his tweet below)
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Sacramento Kings
Thursday, October 15th, 2009
Thomas & Mack Arena, Las Vegas, NV
Tip off- 7:00pm
TV: KCAL 9
Radio: 710 ESPN (Welcome to the NEW Home of the Lakers)
Projected Starting Lineups: