Good evening hoops fans and members of the Sonics Rising community. Game two of TNT's opening night slate features the battle of Los Angeles between the Clippers and the Lakers. Here's everything you need to know:
Start time: 10:30pm eastern, 7:30pm pacific
Venue: Where else would these teams play each other at? The Staples Center (with the banners).
Injuries: Reserve guard Malik Wayans is out for the Clippers and the Black Mamba (Kobe Bryant) is still out for the Lakers nursing that achilles.
The last time these teams met: The Clippers had home court and beat the Lakers 109-94 on April 7th, last season. Kobe and Dwight Howard each had 25 while Chris Paul and Blake Griffin each had 24. Steve Nash did not play and Seattle native Jamal Crawford dropped 20 points on the Lakers playing a little over 30 minutes off the bench.
Story: Both of these LA teams made changes in the off season, one team did a lot better than the other. The Clippers added wing shooters in Redick and Dudley, but perhaps their biggest off season move was upgrading the coaching position by replacing Vinny Del Negro with former Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are still around and if all goes right for the Clips they'll find themselves with a top seed in the western conference when the playoffs roll around.
The Lakers on the other hand could be on the outside looking in when the playoffs roll around this season. Superstar big man Dwight Howard bolted for Houston via free agency and replaced him with Chirs Kaman, who isn't even starting tonight. They held on to PG Steve Nash who will be approaching age 40 this season and added wing players in former Clipper Nick Young and a decent perimeter defender in Wesley Johnson. Still, Kobe Bryant is out with an achilles injury. With him, they'll have a tough time making the playoffs, without him; they're heading straight for the lottery.
Prediction: The Clippers start off on the right foot and win this one easily, establishing themselves as the "Kings of LA" for this season. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin both finish with double-doubles, J.J. Redick leads both teams in 3-pointers made, and Pau Gasol ends up as the leading scorer for the Lakers.
Clippers 102, Lakers 86
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