On Wednesday evening at 7:30 p.m., the Lakers will play the Clippers at STAPLES Center … while wearing purple jerseys.
It’s a road game, after all, one that could potentially still mean something if the Orlando Magic improbably lose at home to Philadelphia. In such case, a Lakers’ win would draw L.A. even with Orlando in the race for the second overall seed in the league, the tiebreaker going to L.A. in case a 2009 Finals rematch occurred since the Lakers have a better record against the opposing conference.
But if Orlando manages to win, the Lakers can only improve from 57 wins on the season to 58.
On the Injury Front
- Kobe Bryant will not play, and neither will Andrew Bynum, though the Lakers did get some positive news in that Bynum took the practice court to shoot on Wednesday morning for the first time since straining his left Achilles.
- Jordan Farmar strained his left hamstring in L.A.’s Tuesday evening win over Sacramento, but will dress and could possibly play against the Clippers.
- Luke Walton played a season-high 24 minutes on his sore back, which he said felt “great.” Obviously, he hopes to stay pain free but isn’t making any assumptions with such a tricky part of the body.
Gasol Going Off
Speaking of “great,” that’s an easy way to describes Pau Gasol’s play of late. The Spaniard produced 28 points on 12-of-15 shooting with eight boards, three assists and a block against Sacramento to complete a five-game stretch featuring the following averages: 27.6 points, 11.0 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.8 blocks while shooting 65 percent from the field.
Clippers Scouting Report
Among the keys against the Clippers:
- Limit Chris Kaman’s touches on the block. He can score with either hand and is very active on the glass. He averages 18.5 points and 9.3 boards to lead he Clips in both categories.
- Recognize what newcomers Steve Blake and Travis Outlaw can do, as L.A. hasn’t seen either in the Clippers’ lineup this season.
- Contain Craig Smith in the paint. “The Rhino” averages eight points off the Clippers’ bench, and made 6-of-7 shots for 12 points in the Clippers’ Jan. 6 win against L.A. He then went for 17 in the Clippers’ Jan. 15 loss to the Lakers.
- Control Baron Davis, who had a monster game with 25 points and 10 assists in that Jan. 6 Clips win.
Phil Jackson said that he would like to limit the minutes of Derek Fisher and keep the rest of his regular starters below their averages as well, though Gasol did play 32 minutes and Lamar Odom nearly 35 against the Kings (Ron Artest’s were down to 25 Fisher’s to 18).