December 18, 2017, 3:59 pm
Los Angeles (10-17) takes on the Warriors (23-6) on Monday in a historic night for the Laker franchise as they retire the jersey(s) of Kobe Bryant.
There will be a street festival dubbed Kobeland outside of Staples Center from 4 PST until 7 PST. This Kobe-themed fair will feature interactive games, special basketball shootouts, photo opportunities, music, Nike branded trucks and even a Kobe-themed ferris wheel.
Laker fans will be greeted with both an eight and a 24 Kobe jersey. Halftime will feature Kobe videos, a ceremony, guest speakers, a speech by the Mamba himself and the jersey ceremony. Their will be Kobe themed merchandise, Kobe videos and a Kobe themed auction in the third quarter.
In the midst of all this Kobe and what will undoubtedly prove to be an electric energy in the arena, the Lakers must find a way to focus on their game against a shorthanded and distracted opponent.
The Warriors will be missing Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Zaza Pachulia and most likely Shaun Livingston as well. They are still favored to beat the Lakers.
They will be led by all-world forward Kevin Durant who has been on a tear of late as the Warriors continue to hum along winning 9-of-10. Durant is averaging 25.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.0 blocks on the season. Those remarkable numbers actually pale in comparison to his play over the last week where he is amassing an absurd 32.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 2.5 blocks and 3.0 3-pointers on 59.1 percent shooting from the floor and perfect free throw shooting.
There will be several Warriors getting a chance to grab the spotlight tonight with so many additional minutes up for grabs. Perhaps none more interesting than first year player Jordan Bell who was drafted No. 38 overall by the Chicago Bulls and unforgivably handed to the Warriors for 3.5 million dollars. He has demonstrated his elite defensive skill set early and often, even when the Warriors play at full strength. If he is unleashed against the Lakers tonight their fans will learn the pangs of regret as they passed on the 1st round talent multiple times in the draft (maybe not so much with regard to the Kyle Kuzma pick). One game that stands out in his short career was when he played the aforementioned Bulls and compiled a monster stat line of seven points, six rebounds, four assists, two steals and six blocks. He put an exclamation point on his night by converting an and-one and making a 3.5 gesture towards the crowd. He further rubbed salt in the wound caused by his on-court performance with a post game statement saying “I just wanted to see how cash considerations was playing over there.”
The Lakers will be led by Brandon Ingram who was shown tremendous growth during his second year in the league. He is coming off a performance where he matched up with LeBron James and paced the Lakers with a 26 points, six rebounds, six assists and one steal on 10-of-15 shooting. The last time he played against his idol Durant he elevated his game to 32 points, five rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks. On a night where the franchise celebrates one of its all-time greats, he will be looking to prove that he has a firm grip on the future as the Laker torchbearer.
As usual the focus will also be on the Laker rookies, Lonzo Ball in particular. Ball has picked up the level of his play lately, improving his offensive efficiency and asserting his will on the game with greater regularity. He played extremely well against Cleveland in his last outing with 13 points, eight rebounds, 11 assists, three 3-pointers and two steals on 5-of-11 shooting. Ball has shot well of late with over 45.0 percent over the last two weeks, raising his output for the year to a slightly more respectable 33.2 percent. He should be one person able to deal with the circus like aura at Staples tonight as his outspoken father constantly draws the attention of the league and its players towards his son.
He is joined by fellow rookie Kuzma who continues to have an amazing year with 20 points, seven rebounds and one assist on 8-of-16 from the field and a perfect 3-of-3 from downtown in his last game. On the year he is averaging an eye-popping 16.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists on 49.1 percent shooting from the field.
- The Warriors lead the league in scoring at 116.8 points a game vs. 106.3 (12th) for the Lakers.
- Golden State shoots 51.6 percent from the field (1st) compared to 45.6 percent (13th) for Los Angeles.
- The Warriors also shoot an impressive 40.2 percent from 3-point range (1st) while the Lakers struggle to the tune of 32.0 percent (30th). That being said, the Lakers have actually increased their efficiency in this regard as of late.
- Los Angeles averages a respectable 23.1 assists per game (8th) but that is dwarfed by the 30.8 assists (1st) for Golden State.
- These two teams are among the league best in hustle stats as the Warriors average 8.5 steals (7th) and 8.5 blocks (1st) vs. 8.2 steals (10th) and 5.6 blocks (3rd) for the Lakers.
- Los Angeles continues to hurt themselves by converting only 70.3 percent of their free throws while Golden State excels at the line shooting 80.6 percent (3rd).
Lonzo Ball (PG)
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SG)
Brandon Ingram (SF)
Larry Nane Jr. (PF)
Brook Lopez (C)
Patrick McCaw (PG)
Klay Thomspon (SG)
Kevin Durant (SF)
Jordan Bell (PF)
JaVale McGee (C)
Steph Curry (ankle) – OUT
Draymond Green (shoulder) – OUT
Zaza Pachulia (shoulder) – OUT
Nick Young (concussion) – EXPECTED TO RETURN
Shaun Livingston (knee) – OUT
Time: 7:30 PM PST, 10:30 PM EST
Television: NBA TV, SPECSN/SPECD, NBCSBA, SPORTSNET ONE
Radio: 710 AM ESPN, 1330 AM ESPN DEPORTES, 95.7 THE GAME