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Open thread: Regular season game 73

The Essentials:
Wizards (38-34) at Lakers (49-24)
9:30 p.m.
Staples Center

This Year:
February 3: Lakers 103, Wizards 91

Notable Lakers numbers this season:
6th in expected winning percentage (.671)
6th in pace factor (94.6 possessions per game)
4th in offensive efficiency/offensive rating
5th in defensive efficiency/defensive rating

Key Links (drop any others in the comments)
Forum Blue and Gold
Lakers Blog
Lakers Library
TruthAboutIt Preview for Wiz/Lakers and Nats/Braves
FB&G Game Thread
A Nice Little Feature on Songaila
We signed Chris Whitney?

Starting Lineups:
PG: Derek Fisher
SG: Kobe Bryant
SF: Lamar Odom
PF: Vladimir Radmanovic
C: Ronny Turiaf

PG: Antonio Daniels
SG: DeShawn Stevenson
SF: Caron Butler
PF: Antawn Jamison
C: Brendan Haywood

Tonight's Lines
Wizards at Lakers: Lakers by 8.5
Over/Under on Total Scoring: 209.5

Root for the Sixers: It might sound weird, but if the Sixers win against Cleveland plus a Wizards win tonight would put the Wizards only half a game out of 4th place.

Something to check on during commercials: Tonight is opening night at the shiny, new Nationals Park where the home team takes on the Braves.  Federal Baseball and Capitol Punishment can fill you in on what to look for tonight (during breaks between the Wizards-Lakers game of course).

One Year Ago Today: 3-30-07 - Never Forget (Tip of the hat to Asian Zero)

Who's going to step up tonight? All you have to do is replace 60 points:

Walking Wounded: While we can lament all that we want about losing a player capable of putting up 60 points, the Lakers don't want to hear any of it.  Andrew Bynum is getting closer to returning, but he's still a ways off.  Pau Gasol is getting better, but he's doubtful for tonight's game.  Then there's Derek Fisher, who's still playing despite the partially torn tendon in his foot.  The injuries have really piled up for the Lakers who have lost back to back home games to the Bobcats and the Grizzlies.  Essentially the injuries the Lakers have dealt with recently have returned them to what they were last year: Kobe, and not much else.

Keys to the Game:

  • Stop Kobe.  DeShawn said he's the hardest player in the NBA to guard, but you probably already knew that.
  • The Wizards absolutely have to dominate inside.  With Gasol and Bynum out, there's no excuse for why they shouldn't.
  • Even with those two out, the Lakers are still a formidable team.  As you might remember, they didn't have either in the first time we played and that didn't seem to stop them at all, so effort is going to have to be a lot better than what it's been the last few games.
  • AD needs to take it to the hole early and see how Fisher holds up against him.  I'm no medical expert, but I'm guessing it's not as easy to keep up that defensive stance with a ligament tear in your foot.  If Derek can do it, more power to him, but don't wait until you're down by 10 to start exploiting match-ups.
This is an open thread, so if you're planning on going to Cancun after the game, don't tell us about your plans during practice.