Such are the offensive skills of Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol that there is often less focus about their collective defense at the power forward position, which has generally limited good opposing big men throughout the season.
With Minnesota coming into STAPLES Center on Friday evening, that defensive focus turns to Kevin Love, a first-time All-Star having a breakout statistical season with averages of 20.7 points and 15.7 rebounds. In Love’s first game in Los Angeles this season way back on Nov. 9, he exploded for 23 points and 24 rebounds in a 99-94 loss to the Lakers.
Odom in particular seemed to have that in mind when L.A. went to Minnesota a few weeks later, holding Love to without a single point on 0-for-7 shooting, which subsequently set off a 53-game double-double streak that was snapped at Golden State on March 13.
Within that streak was a 13-point, 11-rebound effort in a 90-79 loss to the Lakers in Minnesota on Mar. 1, though Gasol’s length and Odom’s activity combined to hold him to only 2-for-10 from the field, his points coming at the foul line (9-of-10).
Altogether, Love’s average of 12.0 points in three games against L.A. is his second lowest against any team, with Sacramento — another team with elite length at the four and five positions — holding him to 9.5 points. Thanks to his Nov. 9 effort, Love’s boards are at about average against L.A. at 14.0 per game, but he’s shooting just 26.5 percent from the field, his low against any team in the league.