The (11-44) Los Angeles Lakers start the second half of their season, at home, defending their home court against the (45-9) San Antonio Spurs at the Staples Center. Kobe Bryant played in his 15th and final NBA All-Star game; the four-time NBA All-Star game MVP scored 10 points in the game and exited to a standing ovation. The mamba, joined in Toronto by guards D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson both competed in the Rising Stars Challenge; Russell posted 22 points and seven assists, while Clarkson put up 25 points with five three-pointers in the process of helping Team USA in a 157-154 win.
In their return from the All-Star break, the purple and gold starts the second half of the season with a three-game losing streak. Moreover, reality is setting in for the ubiquitous Lakers fan base that Lakers legend Kobe Bryant has 27 official games remaining in a purple and gold jersey in his Hall of Fame career. However, on the list of most meetings between active players tonight’s run against the Spurs places the Kobe Bryant vs. Tim Duncan matchup in second place with their 51st and final meeting. Duncan happens to hold a 30-21 edge over Bryant, in the regular season, although this may be true, Kobe is 18-12 against his rival in the playoffs. Bryant has averaged 28.2 points in the post-season equally impressive Duncan, arguably the greatest power forward in NBA history, stepped his game up in the playoffs averaging 25.2 points and 13.6 rebounds.
The Spurs, take the floor, playing a back-to-back game tonight after a suffering a 105-86 loss to the Clippers. The Lakers face the Spurs, playing without the services of one of the NBA’s best two-way players Kawai Leonard. Leonard is leading the league in both three-point percentage (48.2-percent) and defensive win shares (4.0). The Spurs own one of the best records in basketball despite an injury plagued first half dealing with Tony Parker’s ankle, Manu Ginobli’s groin surgery (out four to six weeks) and Tim Duncan’s sore right knee costing him nine games, in his return offensively he was a non-factor.
LaMarcus Aldridge and Tony Parker combined to shoot 9-25 from the field for 24 points in their previous game, with this in mind the Lakers are catching the Spurs at the opportune time. However; the Spurs have not lost back-to-back games all season, the Spurs bench leads the NBA is assists (11.7) and field goal percentage (49.1-percent), in addition to ranking second in scoring (41.6 points), not only … but also the Lakers have lost six games in a row to Spurs and have not won a season series against San Antonio in seven years. It is imperative that the Lakers do a solid job of moving, passing and cutting.
Los Angeles must trust their offense, keep the ball and the defense moving, improving their spacing on the floor, constantly screening their opponents and playing faster and more decisive. The Lakers need to get back in transition, stop the dribble penetration of Tony Parker, communicate on defense, do a solid job defending the pick-and-roll play, challenge every shot, quickly rotate out to open shooters, box their men out and rebound.
Lakers: D. Russell, J. Clarkson, K. Bryant, J. Randle, R. Hibbert
Spurs: T. Parker, D. Green, K. Anderson, L. Aldridge, T. Duncan
Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST
• Los Angeles: ESPN, TWC Sportsnet (Bill MacDonald & Stu Lantz)
• San Antonio: ESPN, FOX Sports Southwest (Bill Land & Sean Elliott)
• Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (John Ireland & Mychal Thompson)
• San Antonio : WCCO 830 (Bill Schoeing)
• Anthony Brown (Sprained Ankle) Questionable
• Larry Nance Jr. (Knee Soreness) Questionable
• Kawhi Leonard (Calf Injury) Out
• Manu Ginobli (Testicular Surgery) Out
• Matt Bonner (Calf Injury) Out