Game 55: New Jersey Nets at Los Angeles Lakers

As this West Coast trip rolls on, the Nets look to keep their winning streak. They'll be stepping up in weight class here, as they'll be taking on the Pacific Division leading Los Angeles Lakers. As basketball fans know, the Lakers are led by Kobe Bryant with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum playing supporting roles.

What do these teams look like? Let's check it out:

Offensive Efficiency

Defensive Efficiency

Free Throw Rate

Turnover Rate

Offensive Rebounding %

Effective FG%

Opponent eFG%

New Jersey

100.1 107.5 27.6 14.62 28.42 47.55 51.57

Los Angeles

102.8 99.9 30.6 14.46 28.59 49.01 46.55

League Average

101.5 101.6 27.9 13.85 26.96 48.6 48.6

Despite the recent winning streak, it's still been an ugly season for New Jersey. They're pretty bad at rebounding, and they'll be facing one of the better rebounding teams in the league so they're gonna need their three pointers to fall if they wanna pull off the upset. And as usual, they get to the line at a good clip and control the glass well enough.

As for Los Angeles, I was expecting more out of them. They're an older tam so the slower pace (and Mike Brown being Mike Brown) was to be expected. The larger sample says that the Lakers are a slightly above average offense, but now that they've removed one of their two black holes (Derek FIsher being the first one, Ron World Peace the other), the offensive numbers should improve some.

Before we jump to the present matchups, let's jump back to February 2001. It's got Marbury (who just won the CBA Championship too) playing at his best, and Shaq & Kobe too. What's not to love? And there was no way in hell I was gonna bring up the 02 Finals.

Tip-off is at 10:30. Matchups and other stuff after we jump.

Point Guard: Deron Williams vs. Ramon Sessions

Is the shooting efficiency there with Williams? Nope. But can you tolerate it when he's getting double digit assists? I guess. Maybe it's because he's been throwing up more threes than ever (6 per this year vs. his career average of 3 per game) or maybe it's just an unexplainable season lung slumps that players go through sometimes.

Back in December, Chris Paul's name would've been here. But, basketball reasons happened and Chris Paul plays for the other team that resides in Staples Center. The Lakers recently got Sessions, and to be completely honest, he's the best point guard the Lakers have had in the past 8 years. That says more about how bad Chucky Atkins, Smush Parker & Derek Fisher were. As for Sessions as a Laker? He's been spectacular so far. Now is Sessions gonna have a TS% of 68% and play at an All-Star level for the rest of his time as a Laker? His past performance would tell us no. But is he young enough (25) and in the right environment where he can flourish? Absolutely.

Advantage: Nets (albeit a small advantage at this point in time.)

Shooting Guard: Marshon Brooks vs. Kobe Bryant

I see commenters here make the Marshon=young Kobe comparison here a ton. Well for starters, Brooks isn't rocking the awesome afro Kobe had in his early days. Looking at it from a pure basketball sense, Kobe's rookie season was far superior to Marshon's (he shot much better & was more active on defense). Now even though I just did a quick and dirty comparison, I would advise everyone not to make that comparison, for two reasons. For starters, comparing some rookie to a Hall of Famer is incredibly bad form. And secondly, this Nets team is terrible while that Laker team was absolutely loaded.

Kobe Bryant is probably one of the most polarizing players in modern basketball history. Everyone acknowledges his place in basketball history and see him as a first ballot Hall of Famer, and that's where the niceties end. It seems like there are two schools of thought when talking about Kobe. On one side, you have the basketball fans who view Kobe's game, accomplishments, late game heroics, will to win and success as equal to or greater than Michael Jordan's . And on the other side (full disclosure, I share this view), there are the basketball fans who respect everything Kobe has done, but don't see him as the best Laker ever, shooting guard of all time, or player since Jordan left in 1998. Usually, newer advanced metrics are cited as reasons why Kobe isn't up there, and if you've ever discussed sports on the Internet (or anywhere, for that matter), you know the conversation sometimes becomes a discussion about the merits of said newer metrics. And inevitably, these two viewpoints clash and you get about 40 pages worth of arguing. Moving on from his place in history, Kobe's had to work extra hard this season. He's leading the league in minutes played and usage rate, and he's been reasonably efficient (a TS% of .521 is fine, but not as good as you'd want with the amount of possessions he uses). To go along with that, he's been fighting injuries the entire season. Truly remarkable stuff.

Advantage: Lakers

Small Forward: Gerald Wallace vs. Metta World Peace

It's generally been good game, bad game for the newest Net. Last game was a good game. Wallace had a wonderful game vs. his former as he had an efficient 18 points (8-12 with 2 threes) and chipped in with 6 rebounds and 3 assists too. If I had to guess, Avery Johnson will have him guarding Kobe most of this game.

Why is Ron Artest still starting for the Lakers?

Advantage: Nets

Power Forward: Kris Humphries vs. Pau Gasol

Hump had a nice game vs. Sacramento, but he's gonna have a tough time defending the excellent Gasol.

I don't know why, but for some reason Pau Gasol never gets enough credit for his stellar play. He's hyper-efficient, is very active on the glass, is a very good passing big man,and stood tall for Los Angeles during their two title runs. Up until this season. he had been the best power forward in the game, and even with the trade that wasn't, he's still been good this year. It'd be great if everyone else besides Laker & hardcore basketball fans got wise to Gasol's wonderful play.

Advantage: Lakers

Center: Johan Petro vs. Andrew Bynum (?)

If I can criticize Petro for his uselessness, then I have to give him credit for a good game vs. the Kings. 12 points with a few assists and 4 offensive rebounds is probably the best he'll do for the remainder of his stay as a Net.

Bynum got injured (again) on Sunday, although it appears as if he'll be ready for this game. That being said, he's a really confusing player. On one hand, he's super-efficient and is having an All-Star year. On the other hand, he does really stupid crap, like taking three pointers and being oblivious as to why that's a stupid thing for him to do. Or needlessly elbowing JJ Barea in a playoff game. Or, as discussed by Laker fans, not caring about defense anymore.

Advantage: Lakers


New Jersey: Anthony Morrow, Gerald Green, Jordan Williams, Sundiata Gaines, Dennis Horner, DeShawn Stevenson

Los Angeles: Matt Barnes, Troy Murphy, Josh McRoberts, Steve Blake, Andrew Goudelock

Advantage: New Jersey


Troy Murphy as a Net: Good process, bad result. It happens.

If i had to pick a favorite Kobe moment, it would probably be him shutting down the AlamoDome in 2002.

Now calling Kobe's play this season MVP worthy is asinine (just give the award to LeBron), but I really can't take the elitist style of the Wages of Wins. No he's not an MVP, but would I go on and on and on about how overrated I think he is? No. I get it, you're been peer-reviewed in economic journals, it doesn't reward high usage, low efficiency gunners like Melo and Iverson,it shows who really contributes to wins. I just can't deal with the absolutism they convey.

Mike Brown's offense in Cleveland used to be "Give it to LeBron." Now, it's "Give it to Kobe." Way to be innovative Mike.

Get Pau more touches.

Andrew Bynum delaying surgery to watch the World Cup cracks me up every time.

That Steve Blake contract looks like a catastrophe right now.

You can't stop it, block it when I drop it

Anytime I go rhyme for rhyme on a topic

Journey through the Dark Side: Silver Screen and Roll

The mothership: Nets vs Lakers coverage

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