The Lakers finished off their annual Grammys road trip on Sunday in a losing effort to the Heat. The loss brought the Lakers’ record to 4-3 on the trip, and their overall road record to an appalling 9-18 this season.
Luckily, the Lakers are back at the Staples Center, where they are a much better 15-10. Tonight, they look to avenge their loss against the Phoenix Suns after losing 92-86 in Phoenix in the first game of their Grammys road trip.
Keys to the game: The Lakers must rebound the ball. Since Pau Gasol injured his foot in Brooklyn, the Lakers have been unable to out-rebound their opponents over the last three games, despite ranking third in the NBA in rebounding. Suns center Marcin Gortat managed to pull down 12 rebounds, including four offensive, in their last meeting. Both Earl Clark and Dwight Howard must be ready to rebound the basketball tonight.
The Lakers also need to not turn the ball over. As of today, the Lake Show ranks 25th in turnovers per game, giving the ball away over 15 times per game. This stat also proved to be crucial in their last match-up against Phoenix. Los Angeles turned the ball over 19 times while falling apart and squandering a double-digit, fourth quarter lead. Good ball handling from Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash will be crucial.
Prediction: I am confident when I say that Los Angeles will win this game tonight. Last time, they had everything going for them until the fourth quarter. The Lakers were also forced to play much of that fourth quarter without Howard, who re-aggravated his right shoulder. Despite a tumultuous fourth quarter against Miami, the Lakers were very efficient shooting the ball, while Kobe played well as both a scorer and a facilitator. The Lakers want revenge, and I think they will get it tonight. I like Los Angeles to win 112-96.