The Clippers have long been considered to be behind the Lakers. Despite all of the playoff appearances they have made this decade, they are just “the other team that plays in the Staples Center.” A win tonight could really change the narrative, at least for this year.
The Lakers are in do-or-die mode. They just lost to the worst team in the NBA and have to bounce back. They are 4.5 games out of the #8 seed with 19 to play. They have a shot, but if they don’t win tonight, it’s another wasted opportunity.
Lou Williams is continuing to lead them in scoring off the bench with his 20 points (and five assists) per game. Danilo Gallinari is healthy again and impacting the game in the way they absolutely need him too. Montrezl Harrell, even with all of the new additions, is scoring his 16 points a night with seven rebounds. Allowing DeAndre Jordan to walk was the best decision the front office made in the offseason to allow all the other guys the chance at serious minutes at the position.
Landry Shamet got going last night, knocking down seven threes in a win over the Knicks. Patrick Beverley is locking down everybody on defense, and bringing back his “We’re better than the Lakers” take. They have been much better with Gortat gone and Zubac bridging the gap to Harrell’s minutes. Doc Rivers has done an impressive job, keeping the team winning, even after trading their best scorer midseason.
Where to begin with this team? They keep losing games that we expect them to win, and there has been a lot of finger-pointing. We can talk about Brandon Ingram and his 22 points per game over the past month, but it would be an isolated positive stat from this group. For all the great stats LeBron puts on the board, he is unable to help the Lakers finish games… with the exception of his step-back three against the very short-handed Pelicans. He has not proven to be an effective leader for this bunch, “calling out” his teammates publicly multiple times.
But there is still hope for them to make a run this year. It can start with a “home” win over their in-stadium rival tonight. A return for Ivica Zubac though to the Lakers version of the arena should have him wanting to dominate. JaVale McGee cannot let that happen. He has had some terrific moments this year but has proven to be ineffective when given huge minutes. LeBron and BI need to go off, while Bullock and Kuzma will need to make their shots.
Lakers claim their 31st win, continue playoff hunt
The Lakers will be knocking off the Clippers, and for tonight, will be making Patrick Beverley eat his words. It’s going to be a fun game, and LBJ will come up huge to help lift the Lakers to the victory!
Free Pick: Lakers
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