DC Council Opening Statements: Wizards vs Lakers, Game 20
Here to provide the DC Council Opening Statements for Washington’s 20th game of the season against the Los Angeles at the Verizon Center are TAI’s Adam McGinnis (@adammcginnis) and guest John Ledesma (@JohnnyNBA), who writes about the NBA for blog called 62/33, and he is a big Lakers fan.
Wizards Starters (3-16):
Jordan Crawford, Bradley Beal, Martell Webster, Chris Singleton, Emeka Okafor
Lakers Starters (9-14):
Chris Duhon, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Devin Ebanks, Dwight Howard
Q #1: What have you done for me lately?
(What’s the status of the Lakers over the past week?)
@JohnnyNBA: The Lakers have been a train wreck for most of the season, but nothing compares to this week. They lost on Friday on the road against Oklahoma City, Sunday at home to the Jazz, Tuesday at Cleveland and last night at New York, giving them a record of 9-14 overall, with 13 home games already played.
They’ve lost four games in a row and are finding themselves with plenty of issues on both ends of the floor. The lack of depth is a huge problem having already lost Steve Nash (small fracture in his left leg), Steve Blake (abdominal surgery) and Pau Gasol (tendinitis), and also being forced to give plenty of minutes to Chris Duhon and Darius Morris, their third- and fourth-string point guards, respectively.
Not having a consistent second scoring figure outside of Kobe Bryant—and Dwight Howard still not even close to being the offensive force we used to know in Orlando—among plenty other things is making the Lakers offense painful to watch. The defense isn’t much better, they are allowing 98 points per game. All of this is due to their cohesion as a group not being quite there yet, as well as their inability to establish their own identity under Mike D’Antoni. The one constant has been Kobe Bryant. He’s averaging 29.2 PPG (his highest since the 2005-2006 season). However, they have a 1-11 record when he scores 30 or more points.
Q #2: Who threw out my alarm clock?
(Which player(s) are we sleeping on?)
@JohnnyNBA: While all the attention has been on Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard, one player that has gotten better under the new offense has been free agent acquisition Jodie Meeks. During the start of the season he was getting DNP’s under coach Mike Brown. However, Mike D’Antoni has encouraged him to do what he does best: just shoot the ball without hesitation. Jodie’s role as Kobe’s primary backup has been established as well—roles were something that even the Lakers players weren’t sure of from game to game while Mike Brown was the coach.
In 13 games under D’Antoni, Meeks has six double-figure games, and, more recently, he’s reached double-figures in three of the last four Lakers games. Unfortunately, Jodie is not very consistent, but he’s capable of exploding on any given night—he had a 21-point game (seven 3s) earlier in the season against the Nuggets at home. Meeks is known for being just a 3-point shooter, but he’s working hard and improving within each and every game. Friday against OKC for example, he dribbled the ball quickly for a layup and on another possession he missed a shot but grabbed his own rebound, which led to some free throws down the stretch. Those were plays he couldn’t make earlier. Meeks is averaging 6.8 points in 15 minutes per game.
Q #3: What game-within-the-game counts most?
(What matchup between two players or between each team in a particular statistical category is most important.)
@JohnnyNBA: One of the match-ups that may look like an advantage for the Lakers is Kobe Bryant vs. Bradley Beal. But, in reality, Kobe Bryant isn’t playing any kind of defense, and that has been very frustrating to watch for the the fan base and the media In Los Angeles. Kobe’s been known to try and save energy for the offensive end over the past few seasons and he’s been caught too many times watching his defender spot-up for the wide open 3-pointer, losing his man on back doors, or attempting a quick shot on the offensive end and failing to run back in transition and guard his man. If Bradley Beal can knock down some jumpers early and get out in transition after Lakers misses, at the end of the game, this may not look like a big disadvantage for the Wizards—at least scoring-wise.
Q #4: How it’s going down?
(TAI’s general key to the game.)
@adammcginnis: The Lakers are reeling and national media vultures have sunk their beaks into the slow dying purple and gold carcass. The expectations are obviously extremely different, but Wizards fans can somewhat relate to what it is like to be beat down by pundits’ scrutiny due to losing. People are openly speculating the Lakers need to fire D’Antoni already. TMZ is confronting Phil Jackson about returning to coaching. (Phil went LOL then GTFO with coaching Lakers again noise.) Kobe is struggling to stay Zen-like and wishing to schedule the Washington Generals. Whispers of Dwight Howard not resigning in L.A. are beginning to get louder. Hell even, Ron Artest Metta World Peace released a new terrible rap song just cuz why not? Jack Nicholson’s reaction to the Hollywood Horror show says it all. These are chaotic times for the Lake Show.
This game will be decided on whether the offensively challenged Wizards can take advantage of the Lakers woes on defense. Washington is dead last in the league in scoring at 90.4 points per game and Lakers are giving up 99.5 points per game, ranked 22th in the NBA. The Wizards’ bugaboo all season has been digging themselves into a hole, clawing back, but eventually coming up short. In their four game losing streak, the Lakers are allowing 62 PPG in the first half, so key will be if Washington can build an early lead or play about even, which will benefit their confidence and generate “here we go again” thoughts by the Lakers.
The Lakers are favored by 5.5 points and the over/under is 199.5 points (via USA Today).
@JohnnyNBA: I’m taking the under. Lakers will win, 98-94. The Lakers defense has been pretty bad and they are coming from a back-to-back in New York last night (Kobe played 44 minutes). But bad as they looked this week, going 0-4, I’m having a tough time thinking they are going to continue the losing streak, especially since John Wall is out. But then again, this is the same team that lost to the Cavaliers.
@adammcginnis: Lakers badly need a victory to change the narrative and the Wizards, the NBA’s basement dwellers, look like desirable prey for Mamba’s squad. Washington is rested, coming off a 1-1 road trip, and Lakers got smoked on national TV in New York last night. This helps the Wizards, and they are 2-1 at home since San Antonio blew them out, with the loss being decided in final seconds to the red-hot Golden State Warriors. Washington has Miami and Atlanta next, so this could be their best chance at victory. Kobe will get his, but the rest of Lakers struggle and their matador D bites them again. Wizards “REPRESENT,” 98-88.
“I be talking to myself ‘cause I don’t know what I be saying half the time. I just be feelin ga certain way, out of my mind.”
Metta World Peace’s “Represented”
[stats source: NBA.com/stats]