Chucky Atkins and Sasha Vujacic vs Shaun Livingston and Marko Jaric:
Atkins has yet to have a good game this pre-season, he hasn't struggled as much as Odom has, but his game just hasn't been there. He has been able to not turn the ball over much, and been able to pass the ball decently; but his shot has not been there and he he has not been able to score, other than attacking the basket for a couple layups and getting to the line every now and again. Livingston is a much bigger guard than Atkins, but thankfully he is a rookie, and makes rookie mistakes; like turnovers, poor shooting percentage, bad decisions with the ball, and fouling. It might be hard for Chucky to see over Shaun's fro to get the ball to Kobe, Mihm, Odom, or Butler...but I guess we will just have to wait and see. Rudy seems to be playing Sasha the most at the backup point guard spot, which probably isn't the best decision, after what he did, or should I say didn't do last night. Brown and Bobbitt also see select minutes at the PG spot, and are fighting for a spot. Bobbitt is more of a two guard that likes to shoot, and Brown is a fast PG that can attack the basket, create for others, and pass to who needs the ball. I think Rudy is playing Sasha more, to try to figure out what to do with him, I think Rudy and the fans know that Brown is better groomed for the backup role, at least for this season. So, tonight we will likely see the battle of the backup 6-7 PGs for a decent portion of the night. Sasha needs to prepare himself to get burned, Jaric is a much more experienced, better player.
Kobe Bryant vs Corey Maggette:
Two friends going head to head. Kobe's first game against a team that was for sure that they had him, just imagine if we were going against Kobe tonight. Both of these two guards are big, strong players. Both are athletic freaks, both can score faster than you can blink, and both truly enjoy playing the game. This should turn out to be a pretty good matchup, I would venture to say the matchup of the game. I am not expecting a big scoring night from Kobe or a whole lot of minutes from him either. He is coming off of playing 44 minutes and scoring 35 points, in a losing overtime effort against the Warriors last night. Kobe will be more passive tonight, trying to get others involved, hopefully Odom will be one of those players resulting in Kobe being more passive tonight. Also, I would expect for him to watch his fouls more closely, unless there is another poor officiating game and to not turn the ball over as much as he did when it was him and Sasha in the backcourt, last night. Since Kobe will sit some more, I expect that Rudy would play Grant, Odom, and Caron some at the same time, moving Caron down to the two. And he will probably play JJ and Bobbitt some at the two, also.
Caron Butler vs Bobby Simmons:
Simmons is coming off a solid year with the Clippers, last year he practically doubled the stats that he was averaging the year prior to that with the Wizards. Caron didn't have a big game against the Warriors and struggled to find his shot, something Simmons is quite used to. Bobby's shot is like cheap Windex at best...streaky. Caron will probably see more minutes tonight. He is one of our best athletes, very strong, solid defender, athletic, and can score with ease. I don't really think we have to worry about him not being able to stop Simmons, but the battle of the boards between the two will be a better matchup than their scoring matchup. Both like to hunt down the ball and get the rebounds. Caron needs to have a big game tonight, both are physical players that like to give it 110% out there, thankfully Caron giving it his all is better than Bobby giving it his all, because Bobby is also somewhat turnover prone. JJ will see minutes tonight, not as many as last night, but enough to give Caron a breather. All I want from JJ is for him to keep bringing solid efforts on the glass.
Lamar Odom vs Chris Wilcox:
Odom gets to play his first game against his former team, as a Laker. Playing in the same building, living in the same place, but playing for the other, better team. Lamar is still struggling, in fact there hasn't been a game this pre-season, where he hasn't struggled. He hasn't been able to get comfortable with the offense and can't find his shot. Also, he has had a couple of games, where he has been in foul trouble. At some point or another, he is going to have to start showing up, I think we would all prefer if this happened during the pre-season, because the sooner the better. Rudy said he originally wasn't going to play Odom tonight, since this was the second game of our two in a row; but since he's still struggling, Rudy's changed his mind. Wilcox is a solid backup, but just that, a backup. I think the Lakers and Odom are thankful that Brand isn't back for this one. Chris has some power to his game, likes to block shots, is athletic, and has a rather large frame to him. Lamar isn't much bigger than him, maybe an inch and five pounds, but he is longer. We need to look for Odom more, but not in the final seconds of a game, he has to get his shots falling, if he can draw Chris out, then maybe he can get to the basket for some easy buckets, like he wants to. Clippers will probably play one or two of their centers here for some minutes and Cook will play backup for the Lakers. Brian has had two very good games. His 3 is falling and he has been getting rebounds, he needs to keep this level of play up and he can be something special for us this season.
Chris Mihm vs Chris Kaman:
Mihm has been very consistent this pre-season and has had some very impressive outings. He has been a solid scorer, rebounder, and hustle player. Tonight he faces another athletic Chris. Mihm has the advantage in this matchup, he is the better rebounder, better shooter, better passer, and makes smarter decisions with the ball. The only problem I see Mihm having is with position battles for the loose ball, because Kaman is the bigger, bulkier, thicker player. It will be no easy night for Chris, especially after playing 40 minutes in last night's overtime game, but he will be able to put up solid numbers again. Grant will see some backup minutes behind Mihm tonight, probably no more than a quarters worth. The Clippers are running three active backups at the center position, Moore, N'diaye, and Rebraca. Moore gets most of the backup minutes, but I think Mike is trying to figure out who he is going to use and who he may cut. Grant is going to have his hands full with all these different big men seeing playing time against him, but none of the are of much talent of value, especially since 2/3 of them were former Hawks. Grant is the bigger body, can bang around in the paint, and do what he has to do. I wouldn't expect anything more than a few points, a few boards, and a few nice hustle plays from him tonight.