NBA West Roundup: Lakers Moving Forward?, Clippers Grab Win No. 10
With a two-game win streak, the Los Angeles Lakers are still trying to climb out of their hole. On Monday, veteran players forward Pau Gasol and guard Steve Nash returned to practice, giving this team hope for a Christmas miracle.
Meanwhile, their foe across town, the Los Angeles Clippers, have now hit 10 straight wins. Are they going to be the team to beat come June? The bettors give them a +900 to win for this season’s championship game.
Gasol, Nash Return to Practice
With the return of the two veteran players to practice, it appears they’re getting closer to seeing some game time.
For Gasol, he’s been absent for two weeks with dual knee tendinitis, while Nash’s fracture in his left leg occurred on Halloween.
Gasol said if he felt well after the team’s morning shootaround, you’ll see him playing against the Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday. He said via ESPN, “It’s been two weeks, it’s been a while. I miss playing and I miss being out there and competing with my team. My knees are not in pain as they were. So if there’s no need to miss another game, I won’t miss another game.”
As for Nash, his timeline is longer. He said on Monday that he is hopeful to “play by Christmas,” reported ESPN, but will see how his leg does with greater activity and his return to game shape.
While expectations are high for the players’ return, it may be some time until it all comes together–if at all.
In the short time Gasol has played under new coach Mike D’Antoni’s system, it hasn’t gone well. At times it seemed like he gave up and teammate Kobe Bryant has called him out on it.
Fortunately for Nash, he has the experience and relationship with D’Antoni and while that should bode well, his chemistry with Gasol hasn’t been tested yet.
But before we get a chance to see, first up is the Bobcats. It looks like a win No. 3 will come the Lakers’ way (-12, 207.5 o/u).
Clippers defeat Detroit Pistons, 88-76
On Monday, the Clippers hit the double-digit level with their win over the Pistons. Win No. 10 also came as the fourth one of a seven-game road trip. It is also a franchise win-streak record since the team has been in Los Angeles (1984).
The Clippers are also off to their best start (18-6) in team history.
How did they got another win on Monday? They didn’t light up the board with scoring; their highest number was 15 from Jamal Crawford and Blake Griffin. Three additional players hit the double-digit mark with Chris Paul contributing 14 points and Caron Butler (11 points) and Matt Barnes (10 points) adding more.
The Clippers started slowly but entered the break with a 42-40 lead. They came alive in the third quarter, jumping out to a 12-point lead but Griffin exited the game with four fouls and the Pistons fought back to come within three.
They couldn’t keep it up and the Clippers again took an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter.
So how are they continuing to win? Here’s a few key contributors.
Crawford – With his offseason signing, it proved to be a good move as this sixth man leads the league in points per game coming off the the bench; he is the fourth quarter leader for most points per game.
Griffin- He has hit his stride this month starting with his first Western Conference Player of the Week award. Griffin has been averaging 20.6 points (total points per game 20.5 o/u), 9.5 rebounds and 1.8 steals this month while shooting 58.8 percent from the field and 60 percent in free throws, reported ESPN.
Paul – Paul is being Paul and has emerged as a leader. He has averaged 16.0 points (total points per game 19 o/u), 9.3 assists and 2.6 steals to-date.