Los Angeles Lakers (Phil Jackson) 19-4
(Likely) Inactives: Luke Walton
Milwaukee Bucks (Scott Skiles) 11-11
(Likely) Inactives: Joe Alexander, Francisco Elson and Jodie Meeks
Time: 7:00 (CST)
TV: FS Wisconsin
Brandon Jennings vs. Derek Fisher
Fisher is a stat-head’s nightmare. His PER is under ten. He is shooting 30 percent from three and less than 40 percent from the field. He’s basically been living off “veteran ingenuity” for two or three years. But he’s also the starting point guard on the best team in the NBA, so how bad could he really be? I’m torn on Fisher and have been for a few years. Maybe he’s one of the players that these new fanged stats can’t properly asses, I mean they already appear biased towards power forwards and centers. Perhaps Fisher’s game is still good, but just in unmeasurable ways. But then I think … nah, he sucks. And that usually wins the argument in my head.
Carlos Delfino vs. Kobe Bryant
What is there to be said about Bryant that hasn’t already been said? He’s incredible and added post moves to his already vast repertoire of shots before this season. Playing with a broken finger Tuesday night, Bryant poured in 42 against a relatively decent Chicago defense. I guess it’s just all in a day’s work for Kobe. What’s absurd is that with all the talent around him now he’s willing to give the ball up and let other people make plays. How can he even be game planned for at this point?
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute vs. Ron Artest
If you’ve heard Ron Artest can no longer play defense, don’t believe it. He’s still a capable defender and can knock guys around. No, he can’t lock up the quickest players in the league like he once could, but Artest is very good at using his size to muscle up perimeter players and prevent them from getting where they want to get on the court. In his younger days, Artest wasn’t all that different from LRMAM. Except Artest was more advanced offensively and that whole drinking before games thing. I can vouch for LRMAM that Hennessy isn’t apart of his pre-game preparation.
Ersan Ilyasova vs. Pau Gasol
Have the Lakers lost since Gasol’s return? Ah, two games ago at Utah the Lakers dropped one .. when Gasol had 16/20. He’s grabbed 56 rebounds over his last three games. Gasol and Kobe are dream teammates. Gasol doesn’t need the ball all the time, is a willing passer and dominating rebounder. He can do immense damage for most of the game and then let Kobe do his thing when Kobe decides to do it. Last year the Bucks ran LRMAM at Gasol a few times and Gasol introduced him to some post moves it looked like LRMAM had never seen before. Ilyasova is more experienced in this department, but still seems unlikely to have much success stopping one of the best post players in the game right now.
Andrew Bogut vs. Andrew Bynum
A match-up of two of the best young centers in the game right now. Bynum has been more aggressive than ever this year, and while his shots have tailed off a bit since Gasol’s return, he’s still a very legitimate low post scorer. He’s averaging more points per game than Bogut on two fewer shots a night. And he’s doing that as the Lakers third (and sometimes fourth) option. What makes Bogut a little more relevant in the grand scheme of things is his defense. A lot of centers are credited with being better shot blockers than Bogut, and I’ve heard Bynum lumped into that group, well Bogut’s averaging more blocks and has drawn more charges. It seems like Bogut’s ability to draw charges makes everyone think he never blocks a shot. He’s good at both! On top of that he controls the defense in a way Bynum doesn’t need to and might never.
Luke Ridnour, Hakim Warrick, Michael Redd, and Kurt Thomas
Lamar Odom, Sasha Vujacic, Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown
The Lakers have pretty much cut it down to a three man bench of late with Odom, Farmar and Brown getting the minutes. When they bring in Odom at the three they’re unguardable. The size difference is absurd and the passing skill of Odom and Gasol makes the offense capable of things other coaches can only dream about. Brown and Farmar are both athletic attackers who can occasionally hit a three, Farmar more so than Brown. The Lakers are doing their best to get Brown in the dunk contest, kind of like the Bucks did with Joe Alexander last year. Something tells me L.A. will have more success. Look for Redd to come off the bench again and look for him to have a little more success after a couple of practices. We should be seeing what Mike Redd really is in the next couple weeks. That’ll be interesting.
Prediction: Lakers 105 – Bucks 94
Let’s call this game what it is: a mis-match. The Lakers are too good for anyone but possibly the other top five teams in the league. The quicker this one is over, the quicker the Bucks can get back to their regularly scheduled programing. Hopefully the Bucks can avoid any 20+ point runs by the opposition in this one. What I’m most interested in seeing is how Redd looks after a few more days off and some time to work with Jennings and company on a more regular basis. If Redd’s looking good that changes a lot of things for the Bucks. But that’s a significant IF at this point.