Kobe Bryant is not expected to play on Friday against the Golden State Warriors, but the Los Angeles Lakers still face a tough test. The Warriors are 8-4 to start the season, placing them half a game ahead of the LA Clippers for the top spot in the Pacific Division. The Lakers are 5-7 but still only three games behind Stephen Curry and his team of Northern Californians.
With all the talk surrounding Bryant’s comeback, one can easily forget the Lakers still have to play and win games to make his comeback worthwhile. Golden State has won four of its last five games, while the Lakers have dropped four of the last six. However, the Lakers enter Friday night on the back of a big win over the Detroit Pistons, while the Warriors enter Staples Center trying to shake off Wednesday’s loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
One player the Lakers’ scouting report should be focused on is shooting guard Klay Thompson. Thompson leads the Warriors with 20.6 points per game, but the third-year Warrior lit up LA for 38 points when these teams last met on Oct. 30. If Curry does not dress on Friday, Thompson should garner added attention.
Into his fifth season, Curry continues to impress, but he is questionable for Friday night’s game due to a mild concussion. Curry took part in non-contact drills on Thursday, but another battery of tests wait the talented point guard on Friday morning. By the time the Warriors wrap up shootaround, they should have an idea of whether the Warriors will feature Curry’s 19.9 points and 8.7 assists per game at Staples Center.
For the Lakers, Jodie Meeks leads the team with 13.7 points per game. Pau Gasol, who is donating $1,000 per point to Philippines typhoon victims, is next on the team averaging 13.0 points per game. The Spaniard started the season slow due to a chest infection, but he is trending in the right direction. Against Detroit, Gasol was one rebound and three assists shy of a triple-double.
Steve Blake, another Lakers’ veteran who seems to be settling into the season, is on a roll. Blake has logged 10 or more assists in each of his last four outings. Against the Pistons, Blake delivered 16 assists to add an exclamation on his recent form.
With Gasol, Blake, and the top-ranked bench in the NBA (leading the league in points and rebounds at 46.9 points per game and 20.8 rebounds per game), the Lakers will look to start a winning streak on Friday night at Staples Center.