If you didn't get a chance to see it, our next two opponents played on NBAtv last night. With the L*kers beating Memphis 124-105 even without Andrew Bynum. And taking their record to 4-0 for this young season with wins against Hou, Pho, GSW and now Memphis.
With Bynum inactive, Pau Gasol has moved over to Center with Odom playing PF and Artest at SF, and Bryant & Fisher in the backcourt. Against Memphis Gasol played the entire 1st quarter and 2 minutes into the 2nd before getting a break from Theo Ratliff. The L*kers subed for Odom early with Barnes or Ebanks, and then had him return to sub for Artest. And, Blake and Brown subed for Fisher and Bryant.
The L*kers are in midseason form, averaging 25 FT's and 10 threes per game. They're shooting 45.5% from threes and 46.3% from the field. And, they have outrebounded their opponent 204-174.
Odom is having a stellar start averaging 16pts and 12.5rebs with Gasol right there as well at 22pt and 11 rebs. They have 6 players shooting over .455 from 3pt range. And, while Kobe isn't one of them we know he can be clutch from beyond the arc. So, the Kings will need to protect the paint and from beyond the arc.
I like the stability of starting Dalembert against Gasol. Plus I like to keep Cousins out of foul trouble so that he's around at the end of the game. And, he's more likely to see more time against Ratciff, if Cuz comes off the bench. But, the center position isn't going to be our biggest problem. Defending Odom and Artest will be more challenging, plus keeping Odom off the boards. I would expect PW to start Landry and Casspi at the forwards, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Dalembert, Cousins and Landry finish the game if we are close or ahead.
Fisher & Blake don't possess the speed that has bothered our perimeter defense so the challenge is going to be whether or not Tyreke is up to the task of guarding Kobe for 33 minutes. And, whether or not our frontline can hold here own without our wings and guards having to cheat off the 3pt shooters to give them help.
Still, not having come down from the high of winning the home opener, I'm tempted to pick the KIngs to win this one. But, there are too many ifs. If our offense can get into a flow early. If our bigs can stay out of foul trouble. If our defense can play like the 4th quarter of the Toronto game, for 48 minutes. If the Kings 3pt shooters can start to hit the shot consistently. So, to protect my credibility (if I have any), I'm going to say that this one will be close.