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Fan Preview: Can the Los Angeles Lakers Hold Off the Surging Clippers?
On Wednesday, April 4, the Los Angeles Lakers (34-20) will face the rival Los Angeles Clippers (32-21) for the third time this season. The Clippers will attempt to win their seventh straight game and move within a half-game of the Lakers.
Here are three keys to the game:
Lakers center Andrew Bynum missed Tuesday's victory over the New Jersey Net with a sprained ankle. Though he is listed as day-to-day, it's unknown if he will play against the Clippers. Should Bynum miss the game, the Lakers will likely move Pau Gasol inside to play center, much like he did against the Nets. However, given Blake Griffin's athleticism inside the paint, it's essential for the Lakers to have Bynum available. I believe he is the number one key to the game for both teams.
The point guard matchup
Ramon Sessions has been fantastic since joining the Lakers. His vision and ball handling have made a huge difference in what was an anemic offense. Yet his offensive skills aren't the only reason the team traded for him. Sessions uses his speed and athleticism to play solid defense. He has a tough assignment in Clippers' star point guard Chris Paul, but I think Sessions can hold his own defensively.
Paul is one of the league's best players. There's no way Sessions can shut him down for 48 minutes, but he can pressure Paul. I look forward to seeing how this matchup works out.
The tale of two Kobes
The Lakers have been able to get away with Kobe Bryant's inconsistent performances in recent weeks. However, if Bryant struggles against the talented Clippers, I don't see how the Lakers win this game. If Bryant finds some good looks at the basket and takes some quality shots, then it's going to be a war between the two clubs. But if Bryant makes poor decisions with the basketball, then I think Clippers win this game.They're simply too hot right now for the Lakers to overcome a poor night from their superstar guard.
Look for the Clippers to pressure Bryant out on the perimeter in hopes of forcing some bad shots. Hopefully, Bryant is able to keep his teammates involved while creating plays for himself. This is one of those games where he has to spread the ball around for the Lakers to succeed.
Fans can watch the game at 7:30 p.m. PT on Prime Ticket, KCAL 9 and ESPN.
Derek Ciapala has been a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers since childhood. His favorite Lakers' moment is when they beat the Detroit Pistons 108-105 in Game 7 of the 1988 NBA Finals. You can follow him on Twitter @dciapala.
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