After going 1-2 on their road trip last week, the Lakers look forward to returning home to face the 6-8 Indiana Pacers. The Lakers leader, Kobe Bryant is a game-time decision because of flu-like symptoms. He missed shootaround but it would be a surprise if Bryant did not participate in tonight’s game. No game this early in the season is a must-win, but a loss to a struggling Pacers’ squad without one of their best payers would be a terrible loss at home. Danny Granger is out for three months because of patellar tendonitis which required surgery a month ago. Granger led the team in scoring last season with 18.7 points per game. David West and Paul George have stepped up nicely in place of Granger, with West averaging 16.6 points and 8 rebounds a game, and George putting up 15.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game.
It is clear that the Lakers are becoming more comfortable in the D’Antoni offense, just look at the play of bench players like Jodie Meeks and Antawn Jamison. With Bryant not being at 100% tonight, the Lakers must rely on their big men to score points. D’Antoni has said recently that he is looking to get Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol more involved in the offense. With trade rumors surrounding Pau Gasol and a possible departure, expect Gasol to be more aggressive against the smaller Paul George. Tonight would have been the 96th birthday of the late Lakers announcer Chick Hearn. The Lakers are commemorating Hearn by distributing bobbleheads in his likeness to all fans entering the game.
#15 World Peace SF #21 West
#16 Gasol PF #24 George
#12 Howard C #55 Hibbert
#24 Bryant SG #3 Hill
#1 Morris PG #1 Stephenson
Key Matchup – Metta World Peace vs. David West
Metta World Peace has been playing better than anyone expected going into the season. There was a lot of talk about the nearly 20 pounds MWP shed over the offseason but fans were skeptical of what he could produce offensively after a terrible 2011-2012 season. World Peace is averaging 14 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 2 assists per game this season. He is coming off a Lakers-high 19 points off 7-10 shooting, going 5-7 from three point land, against the Mavericks on Saturday. His play defensively has remained constant over the years and he is going to need to step up tonight and stop West. West is averaging 16.8 points and 8 rebounds per game in his 9th year out of Xavier. West has a big frame, 6-9 250 lbs, and he knows how to throw his body around. World Peace will be defending West deep in the post, and if Howard or Gasol don’t help-defend on West, he could put up big numbers tonight.
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