After two embarrassing back to the back losses at the hands of Denver and Houston, the Lakers (7-3) look to regroup as they face the Detroit Pistons (5-5) tonight at Staples Center. Stemming from second half collapses, a nagging injury to Kobe Bryant, and the routine disappearance of the Lakers bench…this team has a few things to figure out in order to get back on track.
Luckily for the Lakers, a slew of sub .500 teams litter their schedule going forward, a time when they should be building a solid record for the long run. However, it seems to be a proven trend that this and Lakers teams of the past have difficult “getting up” for the games in which their opponent is far less talented on paper. On Sunday, Houston was a prime example of such a pitfall scenerio that LA falls into on a regular basis. A starting lineup of Brooks, Ariza, Scola, Battier, Hayes should have no business competing on the same level as the Lakers star studded lineup. In the end, it all came down to effort, something the Lakers must deliver in bunches, especially when playing short handed.
Detroit has been revamped, no longer resembling the Pistons of past years, who still bring back painful memories of an NBA Finals gone wrong in 2004. Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva are in, Chauncey Billups, Rasheed Wallace and a Tayshaun Prince (injury) are out. Rip Hamilton and a newly inked Ben Wallace remain, and look to take this Pistons team back to the promise land. Here are some keys to look out for tonight:
- Injuries: Kobe Bryant’s strained groin is clearly an issue, but has he done enough rehab to put him back to normal form remains a question for tonight. Rip Hamilton is possible for tonight’s game after missing most of the young season. Pau Gasol will not play tonight, yet did have an encouraging practice yesterday and said it is possible he could return Thursday. The Lakers also found out today that they will be without forward Luke Walton for six weeks.
- Containing Gordon: Ben Gordon is not a multi-dimensional player, rather a very streaky scoring machine (no relation to our less than stellar actual machine). The Lakers must look to stay in front of Gordon and actively contest his shots tonight. Artest could possibly play on the smaller Gordon and provide a hefty distraction, along with some toughness, however it is likely he will be switching off with Bryant at times.
- Post Dominance? PLEASE! For one reason or another the Lakers will often go away from what is working for them, most recently…Andrew Bynum. Ben Wallace is formerly a great defender, however with age has lost a step or two, and cannot lock down Bynum. In the last game, Bynum took nine shots in the first half, converting on six of them. Yet, in the second half Drew totaled only three. If Andrew can get going offensively again tonight, the Lakers MUST feed the man in the middle. Averaging 21 and 11, there is no doubt, he is hungry.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Detroit Pistons
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Staples Center, Los Angeles
Tip-off – 7:30 PST
TV: FS West
Radio: 710 ESPN (NEW Home of the Los Angeles Lakers)