I wonder which Hollywood celebrity Jay-Z sits with tomorrow when the Lakers face off in the final game of their homestand against the quick-start Brooklyn Nets?
After a lackluster start to the season, and that’s stating it kindly, the L.A. Lakers have bounced back, winning four of their last five games and vaulting themselves back within striking distance of the Pacific division-leading L.A. Clippers. The recipe for the Lakers’ recent success is simple: they’re outscoring opponents. Over their five wins this team, the Lakers have averaged nearly 109 points per game. That’s nearly six points per game higher than the league leading Miami Heat are averaging this season. We know scoring is down in the NBA this year. But for the Lakers to continue their winning ways, especially against a good Brooklyn team Tuesday night, they’ll need to establish their pace early and get easy points off the offensive glass.
Just Score, Baby
You wouldn't normally associate a team led by 34-year old Kobe Bryant, and big men Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard as fast, but their pace of play factor proves otherwise. They rank eighth in the NBA in pace factor - a surprising figure considering they’re missing floor general Steve Nash. The Lakers should get off to a fast start against the Nets, who rank dead last in the NBA in pace factor at a mark of 88.9 possession per 48 minutes. Also worth noting is that perceived weak bench of the Lakers might be showing signs of life. Darius Morris is coming off a career high scoring game against the Rockets and center Jordan Hill ranks third on the team in win shares/game, even ranking ahead of Gasol and Metta World Peace. If the Lakers can continue to get contribution from their bench players and play quickly, they should cruise to their third straight win.
Hit the O-Glass
Dwight Howard doesn't need to be Superman to win over Laker fans, put-back dunks will do just fine. The Lakers rank second in the league in offensive rebounding factor (34.3) and Dwight Howard has been an integral part of that equation. In fact, D-12 leads the Lakers in both total offensive rebounds and offensive rebounds per game. On the flip side, the Nets do a lot of solid things as a basketball team, but defensive rebounding isn't one of them. They rank a lowly 24th in defensive rebounding factor and center Brook Lopez has proven less than capable to stop Howard in past matchups (Howard has shot over 67% and averaged 20 points/game over his last 7 matchups against the Nets). Look for Dwight and backup Jordan Hill to establish the offensive glass throughout the night and give the Lakers their sixth victory.