What were meaningless exhibition games in seasons past took on major significance this week for the Lakers and Clippers. The Clippers beat the Lakers in both games this week, and the ramifications for both teams are significant.
In Monday’s game, Kobe Bryant suffered a serious wrist injury, tearing a ligament. Doctors have recommended he sit out two to four weeks to allow the ligament to heal, and he may have no choice. He did not play tonight, and I would expect him to miss several games, but not remain inactive for as long has been suggested. The Lakers’ season starts in five days, and they play six games in the first eight days of the shortened season While they will be over-matched against the Bulls and the Knicks, they should still be significantly better than Sacramento and Utah. The final two games of this streak are against Denver, and are at this point, toss-ups. I’d wager that the Kobe-less Lakers will be 3-3 on Jan 2.
Much of the early schedule consists of games against teams that figure to struggle this season, and the early schedule gives the Lakers a majority of home games. Let Kobe take this time off and heal, and be ready when the compact schedule gets tough.
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|While the old-pros of the Lakers will shrug off the two losses to the Clippers, the Clippers on the other hand will be empowered and totally confident as they start the season. And for good reason. Former architect and gamer and current NBA.com columnist John Schuhmann has rated the Clippers the 10th best team in the NBA (coming off last year’s 32-50 record) and they may well be better than that. The Chris Paul-Blake Griffin combo is in mid-season form, and while the Chris Paul-DeAndre Jordan combo still needs work, more importantly, the Chris Paul-Chauncey Billups combo has meshed well and it seems the two can play side-by-side. Last season’s major mistake, Mo Williams, has been playing well as|
the top back court reserve (at least until Eric Bledsole is healthy). The other new guy who has been partially lost in the shuffle, Caron Butler, has long been a HoundDawg favorite, and is primed to make a major impact.
Speaking of me, I’m ready to make my picks for the Pacific Division, and this is how it will play out this season: