Gametime: 10:30 p.m. EST
Finally, the most anticipated game of the year is here! Normally, I'd feel bad for such a struggling team with so many no-name players like the Lakers, but what's the point in rooting for a team with such little hope? No, it's better to just root for the better team, the team that's won the matchup more often than not -- the Bobcats.
It will be a welcome site for Bobcats fans that Pau Gasol makes his return from injury tonight, mostly so Byron Mullens can dunk on him.
The Lakers have a pretty good offense for a team that has decrepit old people including Kobe Bryant and Gasol. They get to the charity stripe at a great rate and shoot the ball pretty well. Sans any serviceable point guard, the Lakers will have to get a full team passing effort to truly take advantage of the Bobcats' misdirected defensive rotations.
Further, the Lakers have the second-worst FT% in the league. This is consistently an issue for them but especially tonight, as the Bobcats have the third-best FT defense. The Bobcats must be defending the free throw shot really well to get their opponents to shoot so poorly, and it's working!
But honestly, where the Lakers really have trouble is defensively. Dwight Howard is the best interior defensive talent in the league today but he simply cannot be expected to clean up everything. The Lakers defensive is not very cohesive and forces a low percentage of turnovers while turning the ball over at a high rate. They also permit opponents to get to free throws at a good clip.
If nothing else, I hope we get to see Michael Kidd-Gilchrist try his hand at defending Kobe for a little bit.