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Clippers vs. Lakers - Game Preview and Open Thread

2008/2009 NBA Regular Season
Staples Center
January 21st, 2009, 7:30 PM
FSN Prime Ticket, 710 AM
Probable starters:
Mardy Collins PG Derek Fisher
Eric Gordon SG Kobe Bryant
Al Thornton SF Vladimir Radmanovic
Brian Skinner PF Pau Gasol
DeAndre Jordan C Andrew Bynum

The Back Story:

  • October 29, 2008 at Clippers: Lakers 117 - Clippers 79 Box Score Recap
  • November 5, 2008 at Lakers: Lakers 106 - Clippers 88 Box Score Recap

The Big Picture:

The Clippers played the Lakers twice in the first week of the season and got blown out both times. And those were the good times for the Clippers. Back when they had players on the court earning more than the NBA minimum. I pointed this out after the T-Wolves game, but it fascinates me, so I'm using it again. Assuming Jason Hart sits out, the Clippers will have a total of nine players in uniform for this game, making around $11M combined. Kobe Bryant makes almost twice that by himself. Of the Clippers 4 stars who are missing, two of them make more than $11M and 2 make almost as much. Of the 9, 2 are on playing on their first round draft pick contracts where the amount is predetermined, 5 are receiving the NBA minimum salary, and 1 is on a 10 day contract. That leaves one player - Ricky Davis - making more than the minimum amount of money he is allowed to be paid in the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement. This might be an OK summer league team - but hey, the Clippers beat the Lakers in summer league. Tonight also happens to be the midway point in the season for the Clippers. And they have 9 wins. Ouch.

The Antagonist:

The Clippers have 9 wins, which is one more than the Thunder and Wizards, who have the fewest wins in the NBA so far this season. The Lakers on the other hand have 8 losses, tied for fewest losses in the league. The Lakers have been playing down to their competition some lately, but I'm not sure they're capable of playing down this far. Kobe Bryant dislocated the ring finger on his right hand against Cleveland on Monday but he says he'll play tonight. I'm not sure why he would bother - seems ill-advised to me. I doubt he'll play a lot.

The Subplots

  • It's just so unfair. Chris Kaman has missed 25 games so far with a strained arch. He was expected to miss about a week when he first sat out, and his rehab consists of resting his foot, as far as I can tell. His return date has been moved back several times, and now he's likely to be out through the All Star Break. Jordan Farmar has missed 15 games for the Lakers with a torn meniscus in his knee. He underwent surgery on December 25th. He was originally supposed to be out through the All Star Break at least, but is ahead of schedule. He's practicing with the team, and may play as early as Sunday. Welcome to bizarro-injury-world.
    DeAndre Jordan. Prior to the Minnesota game, I wasn't sure who would replace Marcus Camby in the starting lineup. With the Wolves being a relatively small front line, I thought it was possible that MDsr would go with Al Thornton at the 4 and Ricky Davis at the 3. Well, he went with Jordan, and make no mistake, that's who is going to start against the massive Lakers. Jordan had career highs in rebounds (10) and blocks (6) on Monday. Let's hope he doesn't get a career high in fouls trying to defend Andrew Bynum. By the way, if DeAndre wants a career he can emulate, Bynum (another ridiculously long Texan barely removed from High School) wouldn't be a bad choice. If you'll recall, Bynum was quite the project his rookie year, when he barely played and had no offensive game to speak of. Jordan is a little older than Bynum was, but he's also arguably ahead of the rookie Bynum.
    Steve Novak. Novak is one of the only healthy Clippers who is a scoring threat and he needs to be on the floor more. He scored a career-high 18 on Monday and kept the Clippers in the game in the first half. But the Lakers bigs will eat him alive on defense. With the top three bigs out, Novak figures to get minutes at the four, but he's just going to get killed by Gasol or Odom - pretty much whoever the Lakers have in there. Maybe the Clippers will go to the zone - and they can get killed in that defense instead.
    Gordon on Bryant. About the only thing I'm looking forward to in this game is watching Eric Gordon defending Kobe Bryant. I guess I'm not even 100% certain that he'll draw that assignment - size might dictate the Mardy Collins gets the Mamba. But Gordon usually defends against the opposition's best backcourt player, and in the Lakers case, most people agree that it's Bryant. The kid is a very good defender - I'm interested in seeing what he can do against the game's best.
    Superstar for one game. Does it matter? Take your pick on the Lakers second unit. Let's say Trevor Ariza.
    Get the Lakers perspective at Forum Blue and Gold.