The Los Angeles Lakers take on the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night.
The last time these two teams met, the Warriors entered the game with a 3-2 record before getting thrashed by the Lakers 101-77. Nearly a month and a half later, the Warriors are winners in 11 of their last 14 games. Head coach Mark Jackson has his group of youngsters playing hard and winning.
Stephen Curry leads the Warriors with 20 points and over six assists per game, but David Lee’s 20 points per game add balance to the Warriors’ attack. With Klay Thompson, Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack all averaging double figures, the Warriors are playing team basketball and winning.
In the month and a half that passed since these two teams last met, the Lakers did not match the Warriors’ stable growth. The Lakers enter Saturday on a three-game winning streak, but Los Angeles has lost six of the last 10 games.
Also, the Lakers have a dominant scorer in Kobe Bryant, rather than a consistent team balance on offense. Bryant is currently on a seven-game streak of scoring 30 or more points per game. Bryant also leads the NBA in scoring at over 29 points per game.
Dwight Howard is the next highest scorer on the Lakers at just over 18 points per game, and the drop-off to Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, and the rest of the team is significant from that point forward.
The Lakers are hopful the return of Steve Nash will add some balance to the offense in several ways. Nash is an on-the-ball point guard, so his decision making should result in more guys taking open shots. Nash can also score the ball himself, so his return should provide another player to lighten the offensive load on Bryant and Howard. Finally, Nash is familiar with the coach and gives coach Mike D’Antoni a stronger voice in the locker room and on the floor.
The Lakers are betting on a 38-year-old point guard who is coming off a two-month layoff with a broken leg and a history of back injuries. That may sound bleak, but the D’Antoni hire meant the Lakers were all-in on Nash to lead them to a title this season. If healthy, Nash is a pretty good bet.
After completing two practices, Nash was upgraded to starter on Saturday night.
Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time promises to be a good game with Nash making this game a must-see.