The Lakers are looking to pull themselves together on this Eastern Conference road trip in New Jersey on a unusual early schedule. Let’s see a preview of the starting line-ups for the Lakers and Nets.
Lakers – Nets
Derek Fisher – Devin Harris
Kobe Bryant – Anthony Morrow
Ron Artest – Damion James
Lamar Odom – Kris Humphries
Pau Gasol – Brook Lopez
The Nets lost Devin Harris in the first quarter their last game against the Dallas Mavericks. Harris was diagnosed with a sprained left shoulder and is probable for Sunday’s game. If Harris isn’t good to go, former Laker point guard Jordan Farmar will start in his place, which has been playing well scoring double-digits in his last six games.
Terrence Williams recently got called back from the D-League and wasn’t much of a factor in the Nets last game, which they lost by 13 points.
Travis Outlaw lost his starting spot last game because coach Avery Johnson wanted to see “energy” in his starting line-up. He was hoping rookie Damion James would provide that spark against the Mavericks, and James did exceptionally well.
Rookie Derrick Favors is questionable for Sunday morning’s game with a bruised thigh injury.
Mikhail Prokhorov, who is the majority owner of the Nets, planned to turn this franchise around by hiring head coach Avery Johnson. As for the Nets, this season is turning out to be another disappointment – with a 6-17 record and losing their last 6 games. New Jersey didn’t make a splash in the free agent market and their chances at the playoffs look slim this year.
The Lakers have started this road-trip on a sour note. First, they barely slid by the Los Angeles Clippers with a buzzer beating shot, and then they lost in Chicago. In their loss against the Bulls the Lakers looked unorganized, fatigued, and downbeat throughout the second half of the game. Derrick Rose was tearing the Lakers apart from inside and out. In the end, L.A. collapsed due to inconsistency, and lost the game by four points.
Again, Pau Gasol is simply carrying the team in minutes and is looking more sluggish than ever. The Lakers need to find a big man to help down low now that also rookie Derrick Caracter is out with a left ankle sprain.
Sunday should be a breather for L.A. as they take on the struggling Nets. The big question mark for the Lakers is their offense. Who will step up? Kobe and Pau are still the one-two punch, but who else will lessen the load on their shoulders? First, take a look at Ron Artest. His defense is there, but his offense has been poor this whole season – shooting just 37% from the field. Having to go up against a rookie Damion James in this game, Ron should make him learn a lesson or two by making the rookie pay for his mistakes. Another player who needs to make a quick solid impact in the game is Steve Blake. The Lakers signed Blake to replace Farmar. As Fisher sits and Blake gets minutes, those minutes Steve plays must be offensively solid to prove that he is a better fit than Farmar.
Lakers look to pull it together for a win before they meet President Obama in Washington D.C. on Tuesday. Besides good news on seeing Mr. Obama for the second year in a row, center Andrew Bynum might make his return against the Wizards.
Lakers @ Nets
Prudential Center, Newark, NJ
10:00 A.M. PST
Radio: 710/1330 AM ESPN