Pau Gasol #16 and Dwight Howard #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers await the Philadelphia 76ers at Staples Center on New Year's Day
The Los Angeles Lakers take on the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night at Staples Center. These two teams last met a little over two weeks ago in the City of Brotherly Love. On that occasion, Kobe Bryant gave his hometown crowd a 34-point, 6-assist, and 4-rebound performance that even earned applause from the home fans at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center.
The short-handed 76ers were without former Laker Andrew Bynum and former UCLA Bruin Jrue Holiday when the teams last met. Bynum remains sidelined with a knee injury, but Holiday returned to the Sixers five games ago.
Since returning, the Southern California native has averaged 19.6 points per game, but Philadelphia has dropped three out of four games on the current road trip. On the season, Holiday leads the team in scoring and assists at 18.6 points per game and 8.9 assists per game.
With Duhon listed as a game-time decision, Darius Morris may have to take on the responsibility of guarding Holiday from the opening tip and still saving enough in the tank to play distributor for the second unit.
Apart from Holiday, the 76ers also have another Los Angeles native on the roster, one that has a history of scoring big against the Lakers. Los Angeles native Nick Young scored a season-high 30 points the last time these teams met.
The former USC Trojan has a habit of playing big against the Lakers, and Young averages 22.5 points against the Lakers over the past three and a half seasons. Considering Young is a career 11.4 points per game scorer, playing against the Lakers certainly has an effect on the former Washington Wizard. Further, Young is averaging 26.0 points per game against the Lakers at Staples Center since the start of the 2009-10 season.
Even with local kids returning home to put on a show, the Los Angeles Lakers should put away the struggling road team in the middle of a brutal eight-game road trip. The Lakers have won six of their last seven, including an impressive blowout victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday.
After Friday's win, the Lakers earned a rare opportunity to practice two days in a row. Lakers great Jamaal Wilkes, who had his jersey retired at Friday’s game, stopped by to observe Monday’s session. Wilkes shared his thoughts on practice saying that he thought the Lakers looked great, and he thought coach Mike D’Antoni should be happy with his guys.
With an away game against the deep bench of the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, the Lakers would be wise to take care of business early on Tuesday and stay fresh for the heavy starters’ minutes required against the Clippers on Friday.