The headline for this game is that neither Duncan nor Parker will be playing up tonight. Both had been questionable going into the game, each with ankle injuries, but the maybe not has become definitely not. It was the first question Phil answered pre-game, when asked if he was concerned:
“We’re worried and I’ll tell you why, because we went without Boozer and Okur in Utah and we got our shirts handed to us at the end,” said Jackson. “They really kicked our butts. So we’re concerned that we don’t have any letdown. These guys are capable.”
In their first match-up this season, Duncan was a relative non-factor (though the Lakers had Kwame Brown available for defense), but Parker and Ginobili shredded the Lakers perimeter defense and created the open looks that got Bruce Bowen 23 points. Not having either Parker or Duncan puts even more offensive onus on Ginobili, who has continued coming off the bench, even though Duncan has been out.
Phil will be miked up tonight, as a part of the new NBA policy to mike both coaches as well as a player from each team and the locker rooms. Phil has been outspoken against this policy, his reasons being:
“Pre-game and halftime are one thing, post-game that’s a lot different because there are things that need to be resolved in the moment. Some players need to be talked to and others need time to cool down. So those situations are very integral,” mused Jackson. “As I was telling the people that are running this, many times I’ve asked the general manager and our support staff and even our crack training staff to step outside the room so it’s just the players and myself.”
While the Spurs are missing the biggest names, the Lakers have 2 active injury woes, Luke Walton and Kwame Brown. Luke gutted his way through yesterday’s practice and will play tonight, despite Phil’s fears that he might injure himself by coming back too soon. Kwame will be on next week’s road trip, though Phil wasn’t sure that he’d be able to play.
Phil also spoke about the option year on his contract:
“It’s an option, it’s responsible from my standpoint to see how it’s going and how we’re doing.”
Another continuing theme at this stage in the season is the continuing integration of newly acquired Trevor Ariza into the Lakers team structure.
“How he’s going to flush out his role, I’m not sure, but what we’d like to see is for him to be a real energy source for us coming off the bench.”
Looking into tonight’s match-up there are a few key points. As a Lakers fan you would hope that Bynum could muscle any defender he will see in the post, as he has upwards of 40 pounds on Oberto, Elson or Bonner. The Lakers, as a younger team, need to maintain discipline against the team that defines discipline in the NBA. The Lakers seem to have gotten past their early season problems of being torched by three point shooters, but staying at home and rotating effectively on defense will be at a premier. Even without Parker, they still need to focus on shutting down penetration, as Ginobili has been quite effective in the past. Even more so against Darius Washington and Jacque Vaughn, who must show they can make the shot.
As always, the Kobe – Edward Scissorhands match-up will be key. The Spurs always make Kobe work, but he has been able to be effective against them.