Los Angeles Clippers vs. Los Angeles Lakers
7:30 p.m. PST
January 10, 2014
1. Where does the Kris Humphries dunk rank among Blake Griffin’s best dunks?
Darius Soriano, Forum Blue & Gold, (@forumbluegold): Griffin’s hit list is longer and more exciting than most, so figuring out where his demolition of Humphries fits in isn’t as easy as it would first seem. I still have it below the original “Mozgov” assault and, just from a preference standpoint, even below the open court spin and hammer he had over Danilo Gallinari. I’ve always preferred dunks that happen in the open court and the one over Gallo really showed off Griffin’s full range of athletic ability and skill – from the open court quickness to the ball handling and spin move to the explosive finish. Ultimately, then, it’s probably somewhere in the top 5 for me and in a close heat with the one he had on Pau (though he did lead with his forearm on that one, ha – I am a Lakers’ fan after all).
Luke Laubhan, (@lukelaubhan): My sophisticated metric for rating Blake’s dunks boils down to 1) how loudly the dunk made me yell at the time (bonus points given for whether I leapt off the couch), and 2) how fast I ran to Twitter to experience the aftermath with fellow fans and hoopheads. If these four represent the consensus top dunks, I’m going with Pau at No. 4 (I felt elated and sad for poor Pau), this Hump dunk at No. 3 (I laughed aloud and woke the baby), Perkins at No. 2 (I heard this one from the kitchen, ran in, watched it, and started looking for someone to congratulate), and Mozgov at No. 1 (I texted everyone I knew, Facebook’d it, and called home to tell my parents I loved them). And No. 5 is this one.
Davis Vo, (@davisvo): It goes 1) Perkins, 2) Humphries, 3) Mozgov. I have the first two in their own tier, and the Mozgov one in 1b. Griffin’s dunk over Humphries was a lot smoother than the Perkins one, but Humphries was just standing there, hoping to get a charging call (didn’t work). The effects of the Griffin-Perkins dunk was a lot more emphatic. There was some contact because Perkins actually half-heartedly jumped into Griffin and Griffin smoothly still managed to catch the ball after the ball went through the hoop!
2. How has Kendall Marshall been able to find success with the Lakers?
Soriano: Without getting too technical in terms of X’s and O’s, Marshall is experiencing what I like to call a simple formula for NBA success: minutes + confidence + a scheme that suits the player = success. I think we can sometimes forget that every player in the NBA (even guys we’d call scrubs) are usually very good at basketball. Marshall was a lottery pick and certainly qualifies as a real talent. For the Lakers, then, I think he’s just doing a good job of seizing the opportunity in front of him by playing to his strengths as a pass-first point guard while showing enough confidence in his own scoring ability to keep the defense off balance. It all combines to what we see now: a serviceable, rotation level point guard.
Laubhan: At this point, the prototypical D’Antoni player types are pretty clear: stretchy big men, good, rhythm shooters on the wings, and point guards who can push the pace, probe, and pass. In his four starts, Marshall’s averaging 13 points and 11.5 assists doing just that. No one ever said the former lottery pick was bereft of talent, just that his flaws eclipsed his ability to contribute. For certain players, the D’Antoni way minimizes such flaws.
Vo: Opportunity has been a big part of it. There are essentially no pressure or expectations for Marshall, and that has created a situation for him to play confidently. It also helps that he has Mike D’Antoni as his coach. From Steve Nash to Linsanity, point guards inevitably end up putting up great stat lines for him. The difference? Their stat lines actually translated into wins.
3. How can the Clippers counter the Lakers’ fast-paced offensive style?
Soriano: Not to dismiss this question, but the Clippers simply need to show up tonight and play hard. The Lakers’ team from the first game of the season is not the team that will play tonight. Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar, and Xavier Henry were all key parts of that Lakers’ win and they’ll be out with injuries. Those three were also very much part of that pace/speed/tempo altering attack that seemed to give the Clippers problems. This current group still tries to push the ball, but Marshall doesn’t play at the same speed that Farmar does (he’s more like Steve Blake in that regard) and Meeks – who is playing back up PG – does play faster, he’s not really a playmaker who can break down the D to cause a lot of problems. Even without Chris Paul, I expect the Clippers to win this game if they simply take the Lakers seriously and don’t show too many lapses in effort or judgement. If they don’t do those things, however, this game will probably be close into the 2nd half. This Lakers’ group will get up for this game and would want nothing more than to play a little spoiler while getting themselves back on track after losing 9 of their last 10 games.
Laubhan: While the Clippers will likely welcome back J.J. Redick on Friday night and are still adjusting to Chris Paul’s absence, the Lakers have their own injury-related issues. The Lakers may like to play fast, but they don’t necessarily play cohesively, and that leads to turnovers. As long as the Clippers apply steady on-ball pressure and close down the passing lanes, the turnovers will come, and the pace will be somewhat irrelevant.
Vo: Even without Chris Paul, the Clippers are still the more talented team and the Lakers are struggling/tanking right now (1-9 in their last 10 games). The key is simply playing with energy, something the Clippers have occasionally struggled with at times. Just do the little things on defense: close out on shooters, secure rebounds, and they should be fine.
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