The Los Angeles Lakers are riding a three-game win streak into tonights 7:30PM PT (TWC SportsNet) matchup with the Golden State Warriors. Los Angeles (12-14) is currently 5 ½ games behind Golden State (18-9) and stands in 11th place in the Western Conference. This is the second matchup of the season between the two with the Lakers winning the first handily,101-77, back on November 9.
The Lakers reported that the injured Steve Nash (fractured fibula) is a game-time decision for tonight’s game. Even if Nash does return tonight, he will not play significant minutes or have a huge impact on the game. Pau Gasol will start his second straight game after missing the previous eight games with knee tendinitis. Gasol looked rusty in his return against the Bobcats, going 3-10 from the floor, but had a balanced stat line: 10 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 blocks. The Lakers have improved their play over their last three games but the true test of how well they are playing will come tonight against a dangerous Warriors team.
The Warriors have all the same characteristics that they’ve had the past few years, youth and athleticism, but have now added size and skill in the frontcourt. The backcourt of the Warriors, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, is one of the streakiest combinations in the league. Curry, despite being injury-proned, is shooting 44% in 3-point shooting percentage this season. Thompson who hasn’t improved since last season, as most thought he would, is a big body that can get hot quickly. Barnes and Ezeli have played surprisingly well for Golden State but the key to the Warriors success begins and ends with David Lee. The Warriors do everything well, they are 8th in the league in scoring (101.3 ppg), 4th in rebounding (45.7), and 5th in assists per game (22.8). Golden State has always been a tough matchup for LA, especially in the hostile ORACLE Arena, so tonight will tell Lakers' fans a lot about what direction their team is heading in.
#24 Bryant SF #40 Barnes
#16 Gasol PF #10 Lee
#12 Howard C #31 Ezeli
#20 Meeks SG #11 Thompson
#21 Duhon PG #30 Curry
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