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Clippers at Lakers - Game Preview

2009/2010 NBA Regular Season
Staples Center
October 27th, 2009, 7:30 PM
TNT, 980 AM
Probable starters:
Baron Davis
PG Derek Fisher
Eric Gordon
SG Kobe Bryant
Al Thornton
SF Ron Artest
Marcus Camby
PF Lamar Odom
Chris Kaman
C Andrew Bynum
The Back Story:
  • First meeting of the year.  Lakers swept the series last year.

The Big Picture:

It wasn't supposed to be like this.  After a 6-2 pre-season in which the Clippers were riding pretty high, everything came crashing to earth late last night when the team announced that first overall draft pick would be out six weeks with a stress fracture in his left patella. While we're at it, Baron Davis is a game time decision with a sore foot, and Marcus Camby hasn't played in a couple of weeks because of a bad ankle, so he could be on limited minutes if indeed he plays.  If there's a silver lining here, it's that the Clippers front court depth looks pretty good on paper - Kaman and Camby will be backed up in this game by DeAndre Jordan and Craig Smith, both of whom played exceptionally well in the pre-season.  Smith had a team-high 26 in a pre-season loss to these self-same Lakers 9 days ago.  This game is on TNT, which will give Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith a chance to natter on about the Clippers curse, so that will be fun.

The Antagonist:

The Lakers will be receiving their rings before the game, which frankly strikes me as bad form.  I mean, you're going to put up your 52nd banner and get your rings in front of the team you share the building with?  You couldn't wait until one of the 28 teams that DON'T play in Staples Center comes to town?  It's untoward, if you ask me.  Pau Gasol is listed as doubtful for the game, and Luke Walton and Andrew Bynum are both listed as probable.

The Subplots

  • Tied for first.  Going into the game, the Clippers and Lakers are tied (with 28 other teams) for the best record in the NBA.
  • Re-using bullets.  Here's a bullet I wrote before the Clippers played the Lakers last January. If DeAndre wants a career he can emulate, Bynum (another ridiculously long kid 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.  In that meeting, Bynum had career highs of 42 points and 15 rebounds, while DJ had 23 points and 12 rebounds, on 11 for 12 shooting which included 9 dunks. 
  • Artest's Debut.  This will be the regular season debut for Ron Artest on the Lakers.  It's an interesting experiment.  He's a talented player, there's no question about that.  But if chemistry is the one thing that can derail the Lakers express on it's way to Ring station, then Artest is just the Nutty Professor to put in the test tube (wow, was that one crazy mixed metaphor).
  • Baron's new season.  If Baron plays tonight, it's his first chance to redeem himself after a season that he readily admits was a major disappointment.  He came into camp in shape, he's been working hard in practice... will he rise to the occasion in a season opener against the champs?
  • No Griffin, but Still better than last year.  In that January meeting against the Lakers, the Clippers started Mardy Collins at the point, Brian Skinner at the power forward and DeAndre Jordan at the center.  So even though Blake Griffin won't be playing, we can safely say that the Clippers aren't in as bad a shape for this game as they were then, when Kaman, Camby, Randolph and Baron were all out.
  • Get the Lakers perspective at Silver Screen and Roll.