The Los Angeles Lakers snapped their eight-game losing streak with a 122-110 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night. Six players finished in double figures led by D’Angelo Russell’s 28 points and four assists. They only had nine turnovers, which led to efficient play on the offensive end.
Tonight they welcome the Philadelphia 76ers into town to try and pick up their second win in a row. The Sixers have not been the same since Joel Embiid suffered a knee injury and was ruled out for the rest of the season. They are coming off a 112-100 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers yesterday afternoon.
TJ McConnell mans the point guard position for the Sixers. McConnell is crafty guard who does not back down from any competition. He currently only averages 6.4 points per game but his best quality is getting his teammates involved, highlighted by his 6.1 assists per game. He is also very active on the defensive and will make his opposition work for every shot attempt.
Rookie Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot made his first career start for the Sixers at the shooting guard spot in their loss Saturday to the Clippers. Though not a great shooter, Luwawu-Cabarrot brings length and athleticism to the position.
Off the bench, the Sixers bring Nik Stauskas and Sergio Rodriguez. Stauskas can be very good from the three-point line, where he is shooting 37.4 percent from that distance. The Lakers must be aware of where he is at on the court when he is in the game. Rodriguez gives them a veteran presence and solid playmaker that knows how to win, on a very young team.
There will likely be a change for the Lakers as Luke Walton has said he will likely bring Nick Young off the bench in order to get the young guys more minutes. D’Angelo Russell has continued his strong play since being asked to take more control of the offense. He currently averages 15.3 points and 4.8 assists per game, but since the All-Star break that has risen to 21.9 points and 5.1 assists. If he plays the way he did against the Suns (28 points, no turnovers) the Lakers have the capability of being competitive in most games.
Who start next to Russell is unknown at this time but David Nwaba and Tyler ENNis were mentioned as players the coaching staff wants to get a look at.
Jordan Clarkson has been playing really well since becoming the primary option off the bench. In the month of March he is averaging 18.8 points per game. The Lakers need for him to play like the way he has to have success in the future.
The starters for the Sixers frontcourt consists of Robert Covington, Dario Saric, and Jahlil Okafor. Covington has played well as a starter for Philadelphia. He’s averaging 12.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. He gives the Sixers a big body that can stretch the floor and can defend pretty well. He is capable of having big offensive nights so the Lakers must keep him in check tonight.
With Embiid out for the rest of season, Okafor has a golden opportunity to prove his value. He possesses very polished offensive moves for such a young player. Tarik Black will have his hands full defending him tonight.
Saric has become the Sixers’ best player since Embiid’s injury. He is very skilled offensively and is a matchup problem for most teams on a nightly basis. He currently averages 11.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Whoever is guarding him will have their hands full tonight and must make it difficult for him to get good looks at the basket.
Off the bench the Sixers have Justin Anderson, and Richaun Holmes. Anderson has only played seven games with the Sixers since he was traded from the Dallas Mavericks and gives them a hard-nosed defender. Holmes has had some big games as of late so the Laker bigs must make sure to keep him off the glass.
The trio of Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, and Tarik Black continue to play well. Ingram, especially, has improved his play as of late. He seems more assertive on the offensive end, which is what Lakers fans have been wanting him to do since the season began. With each passing game he looks like he is the real deal.
Randle has also been great recently. Over the last five games he is averaging 13.4 points, 12.8 rebounds, and 5.8 assists. When he is focused he becomes a matchup nightmare for opposing teams because he is able to do everything really well. Hopefully he can keep up his play for the remainder of the season.
Black provides toughness and energy for the Lakers. He isn’t afraid to battle down low with guys bigger guys. Even though no offensive plays are ran for him he still finds a way to impact the game. His play is important for the Lakers success, but he must stay out of foul trouble.
Off the bench the Lakers have Larry Nance Jr., Ivica Zubac, and Corey Brewer. Each have their certain niche that makes them effective when they are in the game. For Brewer and Nance Jr. it is their activity on both ends of the floor. They are constantly moving trying to makes plays. Zubac is coming off one of his top performances against the Suns (14 points on 7-of-13 shooting) and if he keeps up his play he might find himself getting more minutes down the stretch of the season.
3 Keys To Victory:
Rebound The Ball
The Lakers must be able to control the boards against the Sixers. It is going to be tough against a lengthy Sixers frontcourt that features Jahlil Okafor, Dario Saric, Richaun Holmes, and Robert Covington which is why it is imperative to go back to the basics and box out your opponent.
Defend The Three
The Sixers on average make about 10 three-pointers per game. Philadelphia has players who can really stretch the floor so it will be important for the Lakers to stay put on their defensive assignments. With shooters like Nik Stauskas and Robert Covington the Lakers cannot afford to leave players open.
Feed D’Angelo Russell
With the way Russell has been playing the Lakers should feed him the ball. Assuming TJ McConnell defends him, the Lakers need to take advantage of Russell’s size. If Russell can assert his dominance early in the game the Lakers have a good chance of coming out with a win.
Philadelphia 76ers (23-42) Vs. Los Angeles Lakers (20-45)
6:30 P.M. PST, March 12, 2017
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected 76ers Starting Lineup:
PG: TJ McConnell
SG: Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot
SF: Robert Covington
PF: Dario Saric
C: Jahlil Okafor
Key Reserves: Sergio Rodriguez, Justin Anderson, Richaun Holmes, Nik Stauskas
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Nick Young
SF: Brandon Ingram
PF: Julius Randle
C: Tarik Black
Key Reserves: Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., Corey Brewer, Ivica Zubac