Game-by-Game Predictions for the L.A. Lakers in December
Games are starting to count more and more, and the Lakers need to get it together. If they don't, they might find themselves not in the spot they want come playoff time, which could lead to a very ugly early-round exit.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. I'm here to talk about how the Lakers will fare in the month of December. Every game will be analyzed, and we'll see if the Lakers turn their luck around!
List of Games
Dec 2 vs. Orlando Magic
Dec 4 @ Houston Rockets
Dec 5 @ New Orleans Hornets
Dec 7 @ Oklahoma City Thunder
Dec 9 vs. Utah Jazz
Dec 11 @ Cleveland Cavaliers
Dec 13 @ NY Knicks
Dec 14 @ Washington Wizards
Dec 16 @ Philadelphia Sixers
Dec 18 vs. Charlotte Bobcats
Dec 22 @ Golden State Warriors
Dec 25 vs. NY Knicks
Dec 26 @ Denver Nuggets
Dec 28 vs. Portland Trailblazers
December 2nd vs. Orlando Magic
This will be Dwight's first game against his former team. While it won't be very emotional, the Magic players can be expected to hold a grudge.
Last season was marked by the Dwight Howard-Orlando mess, which saw Howard become one of the most hated players in the league.
As far as the game goes, I don't expect this one to be close despite the Lakers being incredibly inconsistent early in the season.
Orlando's chemistry is no better than the Lakers', and unlike many of the games for LA, this one will go just as expected.
While Aaron Afflalo will give Kobe problems as always, Orlando's offense is one of the worst in the league. They simply won't be able to score enough to compete with LA.
Dwight will be a force on both ends, and will have a monster game. Easy win.
Prediction: Lakers win (1-0)
December 4th @ Houston Rockets
On the offensive end of the court, the Rockets are fifth in the league, which is great. On the defensive side, they are 29th.
Basically, this game depends completely on the Lakers' offense.
The biggest problem for the Lakers will be James Harden. While he is no great defense, he is no pushover either. He will make Kobe work and should also be a force on offense.
Both the Lakers and the Rockets are terrible when it comes to turnovers, ranking 30th and 29th, respectively, in that category.
Jeremy Lin has been incredibly inconsistent, but with the poor play of the Lakers' point guards, he could have a good day as well.
Omer Asik has had a great year thus far. While he won't match Howard, he won't allow him to dominate outright.
This is a tough game to call, but in the end I'm going with the Rockets to pull off a very tight win in front of their home crowd.
Prediction: Lakers lose (1-1)
December 5th @ New Orleans Hornets
Former Olympic teammates square off against each other, but that is the only real story here. The Hornets currently sport the worst record in the West, sharing the spot with the Sacramento Kings.
As a low-ranked team, they are predictably not that good on either end of the court. I don't expect them to put up a strong fight against the Lakers.
Anthony Davis has had an injury problem that has limited him to six games thus far, and his return will definitely be big in deciding the margin of this game.
Davis won't be able to attack the basket with Dwight there, and Pau Gasol is a good enough defender on the perimeter. The Hornets don't boast any stoppers on defense, which is what is really going to decide this game.
The Lakers will score at will here. While it could turn out to be a close game if Davis steps up, I expect a blowout.
Prediction: Lakers win (2-1)
December 7th @ Oklahoma City Thunder
Big game here. This is a great statement game that both teams could use. With that said, while it will be a hyped-up game, I predict a blowout.
Dwight Howard has had some of his worst games against Kendrick Perkins, and is pretty much guaranteed to score under 20 (his average against Perkins is 16).
Kobe has also had some struggles against Thabo Sefolosha, which further makes the case against the Lakers. With the defensive struggles of nearly every Lakers' PG, Russell Westbrook will go off.
To win this game, the Lakers would need serious defensive presence on the perimeter, something they really don't have. Metta World Peace is a good defender but has not been able to do much against Kevin Durant.
The Thunder currently sport the best offense in the league, something which has no reason to change between now and December 7th.
Combine that with the best home-court advantage in the league, and it's awfully hard to make a case for the Lakers.
Prediction: Lakers lose (2-2)
December 9th vs. Utah Jazz
Utah is a very interesting team simply because of all the size on it. However, they rank worse than the Lakers in nearly every category.
They managed to beat LA in November, thanks to some terrible offensive numbers from the Lakers. With a new efficient offense and a roster that's beginning to jell, I can't give this game to the Jazz.
Al Jefferson vs. Dwight Howard will be the big matchup, and I give Howard the edge on both ends of the court. Also expect Kobe to go off just like he did previously against the Jazz (29 points).
This is a very good game and will definitely be tight, but I'll give it to the Lakers.
Prediction: Lakers win (3-2)
December 11th @ Cleveland Cavaliers
Anderson Varejao is having an amazing year thus far, and with Kyrie Irving healthy, this will be an interesting game. But don't expect an upset.
The Cavs have one of the worst records in the league at 3-12. There's a reason for that, and it's really simple: They are below average on both ends of the court.
Their defense gives up a ton of points, and the team can't score enough to make them up. Against the Lakers, this will result in a blowout.
It won't be a ridiculous one (see: Thunder-Bobcats), but the Lakers will cruise by 20+. There will be no answer for either Kobe or Dwight, and LA's surrounding cast might actually show up in this game.
Prediction: Lakers win (4-2)
December 13th @ New York Knicks
The scenario: The Lakers walk into Madison Square Garden and attempt to take a game from one of the best teams of the season.
The Knicks have had a great start to their season, thanks in large part to Carmelo Anthony. Anthony is playing some incredible basketball, averaging 27 points and seven rebounds per contest. He has been extremely efficient and has improved his play on the defensive end as well.
Tyson Chandler has had success stopping Dwight Howard in the past, and the Lakers will need to rely more on Kobe this game.
Kobe will also be busy on defense, trying to make sure J.R. Smith doesn't go on a hot streak. Metta will be busy trying to contain Melo, something that has been virtually impossible this season. Melo can score from anywhere on the court, and in every way possible.
Tough game, but I predict a comfortable win for the Knicks.
Prediction: Lakers lose (4-3)
December 14th @ Washington Wizards
Okay, I'll give you a little more analysis. The Wizards are by far the worst team in the league this season, having started off 0-12 before finally getting a two point win over the Blazers.
Their offense is dead last in the league, with a lot of that being attributed to John Wall being sidelined. If Wall were healthy, we could have a conversation about this game, but he's not.
Lakers take the easy win.
Prediction: Lakers win (5-3)
December 16th @ Philadelphia Sixers
If Andrew Bynum were playing, this would a very interesting game. The storyline would be terrific, and the question of the best center in the league would be open as well.
With Bynum out, the real question becomes: How bad are the Lakers' point guards?
Jrue Holiday is in the middle of a breakout year, coming out of nowhere to average 19 points and nine assists per game. In fact, he has arguably been the best point guard in the league this season.
I won't get into all that, but how will the Lakers stop him? If the defense isn't tight on him, he can absolutely go off.
Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner will also be factors in this one. The problem for the Sixers will be their offense, currently 26th in the league. If Jrue has a bad day, the game won't be close.
However, I predict Jrue will simply torch the Lakers.
Dwight will do what he wants down low, but in the end, Jrue's performance will simply be too much. Sixers win by less than five.
Prediction: Lakers lose (5-4)
December 18th vs. Charlotte Bobcats
This is a nice home game for the Lakers.
Charlotte has been better than expected this season, and is currently sitting on a .500 record. But that doesn't change the fact that the Bobcats are still one of the worst teams in the league. Their offense and defense are both incredibly inconsistent, and their best players are all ridiculously young.
There is room to grow here, but Charlotte won't compete with the Lakers at Staples Center. I would suggest that Charlotte fans don't even put this game on.
Ramon Sessions and Kemba Walker might both be able to put up some points against LA's guard, but not enough to make a difference.
On the defensive end, the Bobcats are full of holes all over the court. Their perimeter defense will be picked apart, and the Lakers will also establish a clear inside presence to set up the blowout.
Prediction: Lakers win (6-4)
December 22nd @ Golden State Warriors
I would have loved to see this game if Bogut were healthy.
Without him, the Warriors have no one to oppose Howard, which will lose them the game.
Stephen Curry will be great, but the Warriors don't have the offense to make up for their defensive problems. The Warriors are another young group that has all the potential in the world, but still has some major holes to fill.
This will be a very close game, but I expect the Lakers to take control early and never really let it go.
The Warriors won't go down easily, but they will go down.
Prediction: Lakers win (7-4)
December 25th vs. New York Knicks
This will be a hard-fought thriller, back-and-forth and close the entire time. The Staples Center will be loud and Jack Nicholson will lose his voice.
The end result? A last-minute push by the Knicks to get out of LA with a victory.
This will basically turn into Kobe vs. Melo, and I'll give Melo the edge.
NY is simply too explosive, and also so ruthless, that I just can't see them dropping this game. It's going to be a statement game for sure, with the Lakers playing their hearts out.
Dwight and Chandler will battle for every board and it will be bombs away from downtown. Unless I get a jetpack for Christmas, I'm going to be in front of the TV watching this game.
Prediction: Lakers lose (7-5)
December 26th @ Denver Nuggets
The Lakers get no time to rest after Christmas as they fly off to Denver to face the Nuggets.
Rebounds will decide this game, as both teams rank in the top three when it comes to boards. I'll give the battle of the boards to the Nuggets, and hand them the game as well.
The Lakers will not be able to match the energy and athleticism of this team.
Ty Lawson will shred their defense, and Andre Iguodala can be trusted to guard Kobe. Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee will both be key in establishing an inside game as well.
Add Danilo Gallinari's touch from the outside, and the Nuggets take this one.
Prediction: Lakers lose (7-6)
December 28th vs. Portland Trailblazers
Portland has a solid team, but they still have a lot of problems to work out. Most of them come on the defensive end of the floor.
They also rank 29th in rebounds, which is a huge problem when facing the third-best rebounding team in the league. Damian Lillard is the only real contender for Rookie of the Year, but he won't be enough here.
LaMarcus Aldridge remains one of the most consistent players in the league, but he needs some help down low. Rebounding alone decides this game.
Prediction: Lakers win (8-6)
Dec 2 vs. Orlando Magic: W
Dec 4 @ Houston Rockets: L
Dec 5 @ New Orleans Hornets: W
Dec 7 @ Oklahoma City Thunder: L
Dec 9 vs. Utah Jazz: W
Dec 11 @ Cleveland Cavaliers: W
Dec 13 @ NY Knicks: L
Dec 14 @ Washington Wizards: W
Dec 16 @ Philadelphia Sixers: L
Dec 18 vs. Charlotte Bobcats: W
Dec 22 @ Golden State Warriors: W
Dec 25 vs. NY Knicks: L
Dec 26 @ Denver Nuggets: L
Dec 28 vs. Portland Trailblazers: W
December record: 8-6
That's my final prediction for how the Los Angeles Lakers will do in December. As you can see, it's another pretty rough month for LA.
There are some big games on this schedule, and definitely a lot of winnable ones.
Only time will tell how the Lakers will perform.
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