Dwight Howard has been in beast mode lately. Arguably the NBA's most controversial player for the last year or so, the former Magic man appears to have truly recovered from back surgery and has been on a tear, averaging 17 and 15 in March while leading his team to a 7-3 record for the month. Now we get to see just how good Kevin Seraphin and Jason Collins can be when defending the kind of huge center that they both tend to excel against. This should be a good one.
Where and when? Tip off is at 10:30 p.m. at the Staples Center.
Are they good? They're the Lakers. As long as Dwight and Nash play, they're dangerous, moreso if Kobe decides to not take the night off. LA has more than their fair share of issues, but they're more a result of poor chemistry than a lack of talent.
Who's out? Jordan Hill will definitely not play, Kobe and Pau are likely to play and Steve Blake is day to day for Los Angeles. A.J. Price, Bradley Beal, Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza are all day to day for Washington.
Why should I care? Yes, it's at 10:30 on a Friday, but you only get to see the Wizards play the Lakers twice a year and it's usually a good show. Remember Gil dropping 60 in LA a couple of years ago? Nick Young's outbursts in front of his friends and family in LA? Kevin Seraphin's breakout game last year? The Zephyrs-Lakers game where Caron Butler missed a gamewinner? Yeah, if it's at all possible for you to watch this game, you owe it to yourself to make it happen.
What are they good at? Not fouling and getting to the line. Los Angeles is third in the NBA in free throw attempts per field goal attempt while surrendering an NBA best .163 free throws per opponent field goal attempt. In a related story, their veteran defender rarely foul while Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant practically live at the line.
What are they bad at? Playing as a team. LA's chemistry is better than it was, but it's still not where it needs to be. In terms of overall talent, Los Angeles' top four guys are as good or better than any other combo in the NBA. They've got the most dominant center, shooting guard and point guard of the last decade and all had excellent seasons last year. Unfortunately for the Lakers, there's only one ball and Pau Gasol is just too slow to play significant minutes at power forward at this point in his career. He'd probably turn things around a bit if he wound up in a place like Minnesota, but at $19 million a year, he doesn't offer enough bang for your buck to make a deal for him worthwhile.
Who was the better Laker, Kobe Bryant or Magic Johnson? I could go either way, so sound off with your opinion in the comments section. If we're talking greatest Lakers of all time, obviously no one is going to top Nick Van Exel, but the Kobe or Magic debate should really be brought up more. Ditto for Shaq versus Kareem.
Where else can I read about the Lakers? Check out Silver Screen and Roll. They're good peeps.
Who's going to win? I think LA will pull it out, but Washington matches up really well with them. The Wizards can throw Jason Collins and Kevin Seraphin at Dwight all night, while Trevor Ariza is the kind of big wing defender that can give Kobe trouble.
Watch Mike on camera: Here's a Google hangout Mike did with Lakers Nation.