Friday, October 29, 2010

Lakers vs. Suns Preview

The Los Angeles Lakers are in the desert to face the Phoenix Suns in the first road game and second of the season. The Lakers used a second half comeback to knock off the pesky Houston Rockets on ring night. The Suns were pounded on the boards and lost the rebounding battle and game to the Blazers at the Rose Garden in their season opener.

The Phoenix Suns bounced back with a 16-point win over the Jazz in Utah. Tonight’s game is the home opener for the Suns. It doesn’t seem like that long ago, but five months and 12 days ago the Suns extended the Western Conference Finals to six games before the Lakers made them understand that 2010 wasn’t going to be their year.

The Suns and the Phoenix faithful will ‘get up’ for this game against the two-time defending champions; the Lakers always receive an opponent’s best effort. This game will be a hard fought and entertaining grudge match.

The Suns put up a good fight in the playoffs, but a turning point in the series had to be the theatrics of talented Suns guard / thespian Goran Dragic. Proving that Sasha Vujcic either has the strongest bicep in the Western Conference or that Dragic put on an act and the officials bought it.

The Suns are a different team without All-Star Amare Stoudamire attacking the basket upon receiving a perfectly placed pass. Amare took his talents to New York. Phoenix will replace his production by committee. The Suns will use free agent addition Hedo Turkoglu at power forward. However his role will change, again.

He was a point forward for the Orlando Magic and one of the main reasons that team made it to the 2009 Finals. He seemed out of position and simply didn’t work out in Toronto. Normally a shooter in the screen and roll game; he will be asked to roll to the basket more. Hakim Warrick was brought in to produce at the four spot.

The Suns still have perennial All-Star Steve Nash making them one of the best teams in the West. The Suns are an uptempo team that wants to run. In the half-court offense the Suns run several high and low screen and roll plays to attack the basket or free spot up shooters. L.A. needs to own the boards, slow the game down and play at their pace, get back in transition, play solid screen and roll defense.

The Lakers bench will be huge for them and provides the necessary match the Suns. Steve Blake is an excellent fit for the Lakers as a penetrating guard, floor leader and outside shooting.

The Suns like to spread the floor with their three point shooters. The Phoenix Suns have seven players that can knock down three point shots. Last season the Suns were the number one scoring and number one shooting team.

The Suns were the second best three-point shooting team in NBA history at 41.2 percent. The Suns were 25-8 when making 10 or more three-point shots. Solid numbers, but unfortunately for them they had to face the Lakers the team that lead the league in defending the three and limited opponents to .328 percent.

The Suns are a small team that doesn’t match up well with the Lakers. The purple and gold will pound the Suns in the middle using their size advantage.Los Angeles will be running their offense through Pau Gasol and asking him to be more aggressive. There is a chance that we’ll see both Ron Artest & Matt Barnes logging minutes at Power Forward.

Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST
Television -
• Los Angeles: KCAL 9 & ESPN (Joel Myers & Stu Lantz)
• Phoenix: My45 KUTP(Gary Bender & Eddie Johnson)
Radio -
• Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
• Phoenix: KTAR 620 AM (Al McCoy & Tim Kempton)
Injuries -
• Andrew Bynum (Knee) Out
• Luke Walton (Hamstring)
• PG Goran Dragic (Sprained Ankle) Listed as Day-to-Day

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lakers vs. Rockets (Opening Night) 2010-2011 Season

It’s the season opener for the 2010-2011 Los Angeles Lakers; but before the journey to repeat commences the squad will receive their championship rings for last seasons exploits. This past off-season was the quietest off season ever for a two-time defending champion in any sport.

The Lakers have no problem with being under the radar with all the pressure being on a certain team that plays in the east. While the majority of the NBA was enamored with a super team being assembled with the three biggest names in free agency landing on the east coast.

The spotlight, scrutiny and high expectations will hover over the Heat all-season and like it or not the move ushered in a new era in the NBA. The super team that Miami is chasing is already assembled and in place on the west coast. However, the purple reign is far from over, but it has improved. The purple and gold didn’t rest on their laurels and stand pat. The two-time defending champion Lakers retooled and are now two deep at every position.

The Additions of veterans Steve Blake, Matt Barnes, Theo Ratliff and impressive rookies Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter provide a needed mixture of versatility, experience and youth. The Lakers bench was a weakness last year and now should add better outside shooting as well as produce 35+ points per game.

The additions have also extended the careers of Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher as well as provide the Lakers with the ability to match up with anyone. Facing the Rockets; the Lakers have to prepare to play two different teams; one with Yao Ming and one without.

It has been widely publicized that Yao will be limited to 24 minutes per game. Yao is a huge presence in the post and will get the majority of his touches in the half-court offense the Lakers have to minimize his impact on this game.

Los Angeles needs to control the tempo and not allow the Rockets to get out and run. It is a must that all five Lakers get back on defense to eliminate transition baskets. Los Angeles will have to do a good job defending the screen and roll as well as rotating out to their three point shooters. Los Angeles needs to control the boards and play defense without fouling.

It is imperative that the Lakers take care of the ball, limit their turnovers. The Lakers can out-work the Rockets with a combination of excellent ball and player movement. When the Lakers do a good job of sharing the ball; effectively moving it from the strong to the weak side and moving the defense in the process, they’re tough to beat.

The Lakers need to trust their offense and get into a rhythm early. Los Angeles will run their offense through Pau Gasol in the post and he needs to accept the challenge and be much more aggressive.

Prediction: Lakers 102 – Rockets 94

Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST

Television -
• Los Angeles: TNT
• Houston: TNT
Radio -
• Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
• Houston: 1140 AM KHTK (Gary Gerould)

Injuries -
• Andrew Bynum (Knee) Out
• Luke Walton (Hamstring) Out
• Theo Ratliff (Knee) Listed as Day-to-Day
• C Yao Ming (Foot) Listed as Day-to-Day
• PG Kyle Lowry (Back Spasms) Listed as Day-to-Day