With 28 games left in the regular season, the Los Angeles Lakers suit up for the first time following the All-Star break. The Lakers will also play for the first time since the passing of long-time Lakers owner Jerry Buss. Buss, who passed away on Monday morning, will be honored by the Lakers before the game with a ceremony remembering his 34-year tenure as owner of the Los Angeles organization. The ceremony can be seen on TWC SportsNet prior to the game broadcast. The Lakers will also pay tribute to their late-owner by wearing a patch that reads “JB” in purple and gold on their jerseys for the remainder of the season.
Los Angeles (25-29) begins the second half of the season with a clear goal: make the playoffs. It seems absurd to consider the Lakers, a franchise with 16 championships, as striving to just make the playoffs but the fact remains that they sit three and a half games out of the eighth spot in the West.
With the exception of Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard, Los Angeles has had five full days of rest thanks to the All-Star break in Houston. The Lakers have hit the proverbial reset button physically, and hopefully mentally, and now have an emotional game against their longtime rivals tonight at Staples Center. Los Angeles will look to avenge a 116-95 blowout at the hands of the Celtics two weeks ago in Boston.
With trade rumors surrounding the Lakers about a potential trade of Dwight Howard, the franchise will be pelted with questions regarding a trade for the next 24 hours before tomorrow’s trade deadline. Distractions aside, the Lakers have a size advantage over Boston at the center position and it will be interesting to see whether or not the Mike D’Antoni will focus on getting Dwight Howard more touches tonight.
Los Angeles needs some help from Portland and Houston in order to make the playoffs but the Lakers have to start winning games in bunches to gain some ground in the West. To reach their goal of making the playoffs, the Lakers must win 20 of the 28 remaining games to have shot at making the post-season.
The 28 games are split evenly, with 14 games coming at Staples Center and 14 games on the road. A win tonight is extremely important for the Lakers, not only to create some momentum to begin the second half of the season but because the Lakers only have eight losses to work with for the next two months of games.
#15 World Peace SF #34 Pierce
#6 Clark PF #30 Bass
#12 Howard C #5 Garnett
#24 Bryant SG #11 Lee
#10 Nash PG #0 Bradley
The game tips-off at Staples Center at 7:30PM PT on TWC SportsNet and ESPNLA 710.
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