The Los Angeles Clippers can win the season series with the Los Angeles Lakers with a victory tonight at Staples Center. The Clippers took the first two games of the season, 105-95 on November 2nd and 107-102 on January 4. However, the Lakers head into tonight’s matchup a different team, having won 8 of their last 11 games. Conversely, the Clippers have lost four of their last eight games and are playing with a less than 100% Chris Paul. The Clippers still sit six games ahead of Golden State for first place in the Pacific Division and a win over the “best team in Los Angeles” will give the Lakers some major momentum before the All-Star break.
Since the Lakers (25-28) last played Tuesday night, they have jumped up to the ninth spot in the Western Conference, only 2 and a half games out of the eight spot. The Lakers are playing well but don’t have a signature win since Pau Gasol went down on February 5th. A win would not only give them some momentum before the break but move Los Angeles closer to .500 which is a big hump the Lakers must overcome to get to 45 wins. Kobe Bryant is coming off of a 1-for-8 shooting performance in Tuesday’s win over Phoenix, a game in which Antawn Jamison led the Lakers in scoring. Bryant must have an efficient game and Steve Nash needs to take over the game in order to keep up with the high-scoring Clippers.
The Clippers (38-17) are chalked with players that give the Lakers nightmares, players that are young and athletic. The Clippers have athletes at every position, even at center DeAndre Jordan is one of the most athletic players in the league. Chris Paul has given the Lakers fits for years, as illustrated by Paul single handedly taking the Lakers to six games in the first round of the 2010-2011playoffs. Paul, unlike in New Orleans, has a myriad of weapons at his disposal, including Blake Griffin, Jamal Crawford, and DeAndre Jordan. The Clippers also have a handful of former Lakers on their roster that have some extra motivation to face their former team, like Matt Barnes, Caron Butler, Lamar Odom, and Ronny Turiaf. The key matchup to watch will be whether or not Earl Clark and Metta World Peace will be able to stay in front of Clippers’ PF Blake Griffin.
#15 World Peace SF #22 Barnes
#6 Clark PF #32 Griffin
#12 Howard C #6 Jordan
#24 Bryant SG #34 Green
#10 Nash PG #3 Paul
The game tips-off at Staples Center at 7:30PM PT on TNT.
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