After a 111-98 victory on December 16th, the Los Angeles Lakers welcome a trip from the visiting Philadelphia 76ers in the teams' first matchup in 2013. In the first meeting, the Lakers could pretty much score at will behind 34 points from Kobe Bryant and a offensive rating of nearly 121 as a team. And although Kobe's consecutive 30-point scoring streak ended at 10 games, he'll look for a more balanced offensive approach against a good Sixers D.
Also, the Lakers big men dominated in the paint during their earlier meeting - look for a rejuvenated Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard to continue that trend Tuesday night.
No Streak? No problem!
Even when Kobe's 30 point scoring barrage ended Friday night against Portland, he still dropped 27 points on 9 of 18 shooting from the field. More importantly, he only committed one turnover while taking fewer than 20 shots, resulting in a much more efficient game compared to his 41 shot performance in Golden State a week prior. And even without Kobe's presence in the fourth quarter, the Lakers were still able to dominate from start to finish against Portland. Everyone knows that Kobe has the will of a warrior and demands the ball when it counts, but if he can work within the offense and play efficiently, the Lakers will be a much better team because of it.
For anyone who saw Pau Gasol Friday night against Portland, it was fun to see him regain his offensive swagger. Pau shot two of three from the three point line and finished with 15 points, nine rebounds, and a team-leading +26 plus/minus rating. He should continue his strong play against a Sixers team that struggled to defend the Lakers interior in the first meeting without him. Philly, although a decent 15th in the NBA in defensive efficiency, allows too many free throw attempts and total rebounds from their opponents (21st and 25th respectively).
Thus, look for Pau and D-12 to be assertive offensively,and Jordan Hill to be a rebounding machine coming off the bench. Plus, don't sleep on Metta World Peace, who set a career high with 16 rebounds last meeting, to be a force again Tuesday night.