L.A. Clippers at L.A. Lakers
February 14, 2013
7:30 p.m. PST
Apparently David Stern and the NBA scheduling gods have something against people in relationships. A Clippers-Lakers matchup on Valentine’s Day all but guarantees a spike in the Southern California divorce rate on Feb. 15. I wonder how Jimmy Goldstein feels about all of this. Now onto 3-on-3:
1. Does Kobe Bryant bounce back from Tuesday’s dreadful performance (4 points on 1-for-8 shooting with 8 turnovers)?
Darius Soriano, Forum Blue and Gold, (@forumbluegold): In a word, yes. On Tuesday, Kobe simply had a strange night where his early passing (that was quite effective) turned into over-passing (and turnovers) and when it was time to find his own offense, he couldn’t summon it. Tonight, I anticipate him being sharper and finding a better balance between being a facilitator and scorer. Also, look for Kobe to attack more and to try and get into the paint when scoring. His jumper has been inconsistent of late and he’s had his best success all season when he’s aggressively working near the rim.
Jovan Buha, (@jovanbuha): Yes. He always does, especially against the Clippers. The Lakers have a lot riding on this game – their playoff odds, their rivalry with the Clippers and their pride. Kobe is conscious of that and besides the Heat, Celtics, and Suns (he hates Phoenix), the Clippers are surely atop Kobe’s bounty list.
Jordan Heimer, (@jordanheimer): No. That’s it. Kobe shoots 12 percent the rest of his career, averages 4 points and 8 turnovers, and is only kept around for his media criticism petulant leadership.
2. Who would you take if you needed to win a game tonight: Blake Griffin or Dwight Howard?
Soriano: Yes. Wait, I have to choose? The problem with choosing Dwight is that he’s been so inconsistent this season (not to mention turnover prone) that if “tonight” is a game where he struggles physically or isn’t fully engaged, I’d have chosen wrong due to Griffin’s consistently high level of play this season. However, if Dwight is engaged and his back/legs aren’t bothering him, he’s still the better player due to his tremendous two way impact. So, to answer the question, I guess I gamble and take Howard, even though there’s more than a small chance I’ll regret not taking Griffin.
Buha: Blake Griffin. A few months ago, I would have said Dwight Howard, hands down. Heck, there still may be a case for Howard over Griffin, as his defensive value, while diminished, is invaluable. But Griffin has emerged as the game’s top power forward — and one of its best point forwards — in just his third season. With Dwight’s assortment of ailments and mental anguish, I’d take the younger, healthier and better player.
Heimer: A game of basketball or just a game? Because Dwight Howard seems more fun. More smiley. But for a game of basketball, I’m pretty sure I’d take Blake Griffin, the guy whose game has been trending up, dives all over the floor despite his tweaked ankle, hasn’t recently described his back as “at 80 percent,” and whose father rarely offers scoops to local papers blaming his son’s teammates and coaches for his son’s disappointing season.
3. Who ya got? Lakers or Clips?
Soriano: My head tells me that the Clips win this game based off finally having everyone healthy and their recent strong play after the Miami loss. I also don’t think the back to back bothers them much tonight due their depth. That said, my gut tells me that this is a game the Lakers are really focused on winning and that they’ll have that extra attentiveness on both sides of the ball to pull out a close win.
Buha: Clippers. The Lakers are playing the best they’ve played all season, but one of their only advantages over the Clippers the past two seasons has been someone who’s out with injury: Pau Gasol. The 7-foot Spaniard defends Griffin better than almost anyone else, and the Lakers will miss him against the Clippers’ athletic frontcourt.
Heimer: It’s hipper to be a Clipper. These games bring out the worst in me (see above answers). On the sliding scale, tonight I’ll be 1% analyst, 60% Clipper fan, and 39% Laker hater. Let’s go Clips.