The Charlotte Bobcats are in the midst of another depressing losing streak – this time a five-game skid that has them marching into a home matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers. L.A. continues to give a go at trying to form a championship team, but without Pau Gasol and an ailing Dwight Howard, they seem to be running on fumes.
That’s the good news. The bad news is the Bobcats have been atrocious for most of the year, and as troubling as the Lakers’ have found themselves for much of the 2012-13 season, they’re still a far better team than Charlotte is.
With that said, Charlotte did give the Lakers a run for their money earlier this year, and at least has Byron Mullens back to help give them some size and versatility again from their bigs.
Let’s break this matchup down further and try to come away with a pick for tonight’s game:
1. The Point – Edge: Bobcats
Steve Nash is the better pure point guard here, but at this stage in his career Kemba Walker is the better scorer and clearly wins the defensive battle. I like Ramon Sessions more than Steve Blake, Darius Miller or Chris Duhon at the backup spot, as well.
2. The Wings – Edge: Lakers
Kobe Bryant leads the charge, while Earl Clark is a nice versatile weapon to help out on the wing. Metta World Peace is touch and go, but he rounds out a more experienced group than what Charlotte has. I’ve praised the Bobcat’s guard depth all year, but they won’t win a matchup with Kobe.
3. The Bigs – Edge: Lakers
Dwight Howard isn’t 100%, but the Bobcats lack toughness and defense inside, so he should win this battle. No Pau Gasol hurts L.A., but Antawn Jamison can add a nice scoring punch and Howard himself is enough here. It’s nice to have Byron Mullens back, but he doesn’t do much defensively and rarely fights inside.
4. The Coach – Edge: Lakers
Mike D’Antoni has his criticism, and I’m not fond of his philosophy, but there’s more on his plate right now and he’s done a better job overall than Mike Dunlap. That’s not saying much either way, but at least the Lakers have turned it around a bit lately and have some faint hope to sneak into the playoffs. The Bobcats are once again knee-deep in a losing streak, and the rookie Dunlap is at least partially to blame for that.
5. The Verdict: Lakers Win
Charlotte could get a sneaky one here and end their skid, but I don’t see it happening. The Lakers have been playing better ball over the past six or seven games, and just got trounced by the Boston Celtics. No Gasol is bad news, but the Lakers are pissed enough and good enough to slap Charlotte around on the road.
My Pick: Lakers 104, Bobcats 96