Tonight could be one of those historic games for the Lakers, one of many in the long line of records set and broken by this great franchise. However, on this night the Lakers won’t be setting a record of their own, rather attempting to cement the New Jersey (Brooklyn) Nets as one of the all time worst teams in NBA history. The Lakers (12-3) take on the Nets (0-16) tonight at Staples Center in a battle of two teams heading in complete opposite directions. The Lake Show is finally almost healthy again, and gelling extremely well on the court. After putting the hurt on Golden State last night, the Lakers look to increase their winning streak to six games, while the Nets are playing to avoid history, and become tied for the worst start in NBA history at 0-17.
In some of the least surprising news of the year, sources say this morning that the Nets have fired head coach Lawrence Frank. Perhaps Jay-Z will make his second appearance of the year at Staples Center and coach the team tonight. Having H.O.V.A. on the sidelines should be the only thing that could possibly keep this game interesting for the Lakers, and there in lies the rub. Tonight is surely the ultimate trap game, a desperate team, newly coachless, and on the biggest stage against the defending champions, what more motivation does a team need? The Lakers biggest enemy tonight will be the themselves, ensuring that complacency or boredom does not set in against the leagues worst team. Regardless of their record, the Nets still are an NBA team (barely), which means they have talent and can get hot on any given night. A few keys to the game tonight:
- Don’t be THAT team: My plea to the Lakers for tonight; Please do not get complacent, do not take this desperate team lightly, and whatever you do, do not be the 1 in 1-16. The Lakers seem to have that killer instinct once again, putting teams down early and never taking their foot off the throttle. Look for the starters to jump out to an early lead again tonight, turning it over to the bench to close it out. This is a game where Kobe and Pau should be able to get the ice packs on early and keep them there. However, if they let the Nets bait them into a messy, up and down track meet, this could just as easily become a very unsettling sight for Lakers fans.
- Lamar Odom: Odom looked like himself for the first time in a few games last night, posting 8 points, 10 rebounds, 4 ast, 2 steals, 3 blocks with just a single turnover. The Lakers need Lamar to stuff the stat sheet when leading the second unit, and most importantly keep the energy level high. When LO seems to be out of the action or does not get the amount of touches he is looking for, look for his attitude and energy level to suffer. The second unit should continue to initiate their offense through the human triple double, and allow him to get going first. Farmar and Brown played tough last night, while Artest also provided some punch when joining the bench mob.