Scouting Report: Los Angeles Lakers
After an emotion season-opening win over the crosstown rival Clippers, the Lakers have dropped their past two games and sit at 1-2 headed into Sunday’s game with the Hawks. Los Angeles played a Tim Duncan-less Spurs team tough Friday night before falling on their home court.
As we know, L.A. is without Kobe Bryant, who is still recovering from the Achilles injury he suffered at the end of last season. Bryant will return at some point this season, but for now, there will be no Dahntay Jones-like drama between the Lakers and Hawks.
Also gone is Dwight Howard after one messy season with the team. The new-look Lakers are younger, with guys like Xavier Henry, Jodie Meeks and Jordan Farmar stepping up to fill the void.
None of those three are in the Lakers’ regular starting lineup, but they’ve probably been the most impressive pieces on a team that seems to have a deeper bench than many thought. Henry is an explosive guard with good size for a 2 (though he does play small forward in their rotation as well), and he can shoot. Through two games, he’s 3-7 from downtown. The key may be fouling him, as he’s made just 12 of 23 free throws so far.
Meeks emerged on the scene last year because of injury issues to Bryant and Metta World Peace and did very well for himself. Though not a starter, he’s second on the team in scoring at 13.7 PPG and is a guy you have to watch out for on the perimeter. The former Kentucky Wildcat is only getting better.
Farmar has been in L.A. for a while and has always seen just enough playing time to warrant a look but never enough to be taken seriously. Steve Nash has been battling minor injuries, which could open the door for the electric young point guard to see more action.
Of course, Nash is still a threat when healthy, and I expect him to play Sunday. Him and Pau Gasol, L.A.’s leading scorer are both effective offensive players and make for a good small-big combo. With Gasol, the key is boxing him out, as he’s always attacking the offensive glass. For Nash, the Hawks want him to keep the ball in his hands. He’s at his best when he’s distributing off the dribble drive, so keeping him in front will be imperative.
This is the first of three in an early west coast trip for Atlanta. Getting off on the right foot will be key, and the Hawks are hoping to build on the momentum from Friday night’s win.
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