Who Gets to Play is Key to Lakers’ Victory Tonight

After their scintillating season debut against the Clippers, the Lakers have lost two in a row, but the real Lakers should shine tonight against the undersized Hawks. That is, if coach Mike D’Antoni uses the right players.

When the bench scored 76 points in the season opener, one might have given D’Antoni an idea that maybe, just maybe, he was starting the wrong guys, but the RIGHT guys have gotten even less playing time over the past two games. To beat Atlanta, he needs to get some things straight.

For much of the preseason, he had Chris Kaman playing alongside Pau Gasol, and they worked great together. On opening night, Kaman played just under 20 minutes, much next to Gasol and he scored 10 points with eight rebounds. Mysteriously, his minutes


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have diminished in each succeeding game, from 19:40 to 17:43 to 12:40. Kaman HAS to play WITH Gasol, and for MUCH of the game (Note: NOT just tonight against Atlanta, but always). The Hawks have some talent, but they have one obvious deficiency – except for extreme height at shooting guard, in the 6’7″ Kyle Korver – lack of height. Starting center Al Horford is 6’10′, and backup Elton Brand only 6’9″ (wasn’t he 6’8″ when he was a Clipper?), and at the power forward, both Paul Milsap and backup Mike Scott are 6’8″. In fact, no one on the squad is any taller than third string rookie Yugoslavian center Pero Antic, at 6’11″.

The Lakers can dominate the Hawks in the paint and on the boards, with Kamam at center along side Gasol at power forward. Shawne Williams has been an absolute total loss getting much of the playing time there, and with the athletic and energetic Jordan Hill as the primary back-up for Gasol and Kaman, the Lakers should own the front line. Maybe even Ryan Kelly can get into the game, and show off his outside touch.


Also, it’s time for Jordan Farmar to be THE guy at point guard. Steve Nash has been horrid, and at least until he regains some semblance of health, if he ever does, Farmar needs to be the guy, certainly over Steve Blake, who is playing 25 minutes per game and shooting 28.6%. Consecutive four-of-13 and two-of-12 games should clearly put him at the end of the bench when Nash plays.


Maybe, just maybe, D’Antoni has figured out the fact that nick young is a liability when he is shooting well, and a disaster when he is not, like so far this season. His minutes have deceased each game, and they should go down to NOTHING. Wesley Johnson is getting more and more time at small forward, and his performance has improved significantly each game, which has been reflected in his stats, though that is not always the case. After a bad overall first game, he has hit 50% on threes since, and is looking more and more like a fourth overall draft pick should look.

Bottom line, the Lakers should dominate the Hawks if the right guys are on the court. If not, it will be a close game that they could lose, just like the last one against San Antonio.

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