The Lakers are in the middle of a four-game losing streak, the longest this season. During the current losing streak, the Lakers have given up 114.2 points a game and gave up a high of 134 against the Houston Rockets on December 7th. Luke Walton understands that the injuries will cause problems, but doesn’t seem them as an excuse for the lazy passes and poor defense.
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) December 8, 2016
These have been problems for the Lakers all season, but they were drowned out because of the talent on their roster, but without D’Angelo Russell and Nick Young the Lakers offense has not been as fluid and smooth as it was and the struggling offense has lead to turnovers, and those turnovers have led to easy points for opposing teams.
The Phoenix Suns come into Los Angeles in the middle of their own losing streak. The Suns rely on their guards: Devin Booker, Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight to help keep their offense going. Phoenix’s big men, Tyson Chandler and Alex Zen are asked to come in clean up the guards’ defense and protect the rim.
This game should be very high scoring with both teams trying to get out on the fast break as much as possible.
The Suns’ have three terrific players that play in their backcourt in Booker, Bledsoe, and Knight.
In 2015, Phoenix drafted Devin Booker 13th overall, 11 spots after Laker’s guard Angelo Russell. Booker is averaging 19.0 points, 2.7 assists and 2.6 rebounds for the Suns this season. In his first game against the Lakers this season, Booker played 45 minutes and scored 39 points on 44.8% shooting. Booker is someone who can score in bunches, and if the Lakers can’t contain him, it might be a long night.
Eric Bledsoe starts in the backcourt alongside Booker. The Kentucky product is the longest tenured member of Suns’ backcourt, and it is because of his tremendous defensive presence and his athletic ability. Bledsoe had 19 points and two assists in his last matchup against the Lakers, but he also had six turnovers. Phoenix will need him to lock up players like Lou Williams and Jordan Clarkson tonight if they want to win.
The last member of the backcourt’s three-headed monster is Brandon Knight. The Suns’ sixth man averages 13.0 points, 2.9 assists, and 2.9 rebounds. Knight has been the player most affected by Booker’s ascension, averaging 36.0 minutes last year and only 24.9 minutes this year. Knight was a non-factor in the first meeting against the Lakers this year only scoring two points and dishing out four assists.
Lou Williams has been the best player for the Lakers this past week averaging 34 points on 53.8% shooting in the last three games. The Lakers’ bench leader has been asked to step up in the absence of D’Angelo Russell and carry the load. Williams has played excellent, but the Lakers have not been able to win the games he is keeping them in. Williams will need to help the Lakers by playing tougher on the defense end and by sending out lazy passes that lead to turnovers.
Jordan Clarkson hasn’t been the same player recently. The former Missouri Tiger has only shot above 30% from the field once in his last four games. Clarkson receives the start last game and shot 23% from the field with seven points, two assists and two rebounds. Clarkson needs to be more patient and looks to get others involved in the offense. This season Clarkson has been at his best playing with the bench unit because he can attack most of the time and not worry about facilitating. Against the Suns, Clarkson will have to guard Brandon Knight, so if Clarkson is still not about to get going offensively, the Lakers need him to hold his own defensively.
Tyson Chandler, starting at center for the Suns, is averaging 7.2 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 0.7 assists this season. The Southern California product has nine points and 12 rebounds in the first against the Lakers. Going against Timofey Mozgov, Thomas Robinson and Julius Randle is all in Chandler’s range as a defender, they Lakers need to play aggressively to make sure he isn’t creating second chance opportunities. Let’s hope that Randle can get the best out of Chandler once again.
Brandon Ingram has been the beneficiary of the Lakers injuries this season. Ingram has averaged 34.6 minutes in the last five games for the Lakers, playing 41 minutes against the Chicago Bulls. Still, Ingram has been hit or miss with his shooting stroke but still has been active on the defensive side of the ball. The Lakers need players like Ingram, Deng and Clarkson to have their shots fall if they hope to get back to winning some basketball games.
Julius Randle has been the player the Lakers look to when they need a basket. Randle has shown his jumper more since he sat out a couple of games due to an injured hip. The former Wildcat will need to be disruptive on both ends of the floor to help the Lakers get some easy baskets. Randle will look to take advantage of Jared Dudley, who is only 6’7” and weighs 225 pounds compared to Randle’s 6’-9” and 250 pounds.
Keys to victory:
Stop the three-headed monster in the Sun’s backcourt. Booker, Bledsoe and Knight all have the ability to take over a game against this depleted Lakers team. The Lakers need to make sure that at least two of the three players are kept in check or they could be in for a long night.
Get some easy buckets:
The Lakers are missing a lot of guys they can depend on to make three point shots, D’Angelo Russell, Nick Young and Jose Calderon, so they need to force some turnovers that lead to fast breaks, get to the free throw line and second chance opportunities
Keep turnovers down
The Lakers tied an NBA season high with 28 turnovers, which lead to 42 points, against the Houston Rockets. The Suns play similar to the rockets and could exploit the Lakers in similar ways.
Los Angeles Lakers (10-14) Vs. Phoenix Suns (6-16)
7:30 P.M. PST, November 6, 2016
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Suns Starting Lineup:
PG: Eric Bledsoe
SG: Devin Booker
SF: PJ Tucker
PF: Marquese Chriss
C: Tyson Chandler
Key Reserves: Brandon Knight, Leandro Barbosa, Alex Len
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Jordan Clarkson
SG: Brandon Ingram
SF: Luol Deng
PF: Julius Randle
C: Timofey Mozgov
Key Reserves: Larry Nance Jr., Lou Williams, Thomas Robinson