Los Angeles Lakers: Predicting How Kobe Bryant And Co. Will Fare in December
The Los Angeles Lakers continue their march toward a three-peat NBA title in the month of December.
The Lakers opened the new season in November rolling to a 10-4 record (not counting tonight's game vs. Memphis) for the first full month of 2010-2011 season. The team was led by Pau Gasol, who played like he truly is one of the best players on the planet.
November also saw superstar Kobe Bryant recover fully from offseason knee surgery. Shannon Brown came off the Lakers bench guns a blazing, proving his hard work over summer paid off, showing the world he is not only a great dunker, but also fabulous shooter.
Now, December looms—what new successes will arise for the Lakers? And, who will shine along with Kobe?
The journey to a three-peat NBA championship for the Lakers is less sprint and more “marathon,” as head coach Phil Jackson loves to point out. And, for this section of the race, the road begins to rise, a climb beginning.
Besides the games, the other key thing that December should mean for Laker fans will be the return of a healthy Andrew Bynum, who is scheduled to come back mid-month. With the team already playing at a high level, Andrew’s addition will only add to the Lakers' strength and allow him to ease his way back into form.
And his addition will help reduce the heavy dose of minutes played by L.A.'s frontcourt.
For the Lakers, the only month that truly matters is June. But, December matters, too. And the game to circle is Christmas Day.
On the 25th, the circus called the Miami Heat roll into L.A. for a much anticipated first matchup. Will Miami have found its way by the time they play the Lakers and give the defending champs a real battle?
Last month, I predicted each win and loss for November. I said the Lakers would win 11 and lose four. The game tonight against Memphis will be the decider, as I predicted a loss, and right now, the Lakers have already lost four games in November. Maybe they win tonight and make me perfect, at least on the win-loss record, for the month. I hope so.
So, here are each of the Lakers’ games in December, key factors of each contest and the predicted outcome.
Wednesday, December 1: At Houston Rockets
Win, but a close one.
This is a back to back, the Lakers rolling into Houston after playing in Memphis the night before. Houston plays well at home and their backcourt combo of Kevin Martin and Aaron Brooks will run the Lakers ragged.
Still a win for the Lakers.
Friday, December 3: Vs. Sacramento Kings
Win, possibly by double digits.
The Kings play the Lakers tough up in Cow Town, but in L.A., count on the Lakers' size to result in a fourth quarter rest for the starters.
Tuesday, December 7: Vs. Washington Wizards
Laker fans first chance to see rookie sensation John Wall. His presence won’t matter, as Kobe Bryant will welcome him to the NBA. Lakers win, possibly by double digits.
Wednesday, December 8: At Los Angeles Clippers
Blake Griffin's monster dunk against the Knicks
A so-called road game. Win, but will be fun to see Blake Griffin do some of his amazing dunks. While we don’t like Laker players posterized, Blake can really through down some jaw-dropping slams.
Oh yeah, the game won’t be close. Lakers win.
Friday, December 10: At Chicago Bulls
Played a tight one in L.A. This one will be even closer. I think the Lakers will be up for the challenge. Chicago’s Carlos Boozer might even be back to play in this one, that will only make the obstacles greater for L.A. to win.
I predict a Lakers win by less than five.
Sunday, December 12: At New Jersey Nets
Win, and it will be fun to watch.
Nets coach Avery Johnson has New Jersey playing well for the limited talent they have. But it won’t matter. Lakers in a blowout win.
Tuesday, December 14: At Washington Wizards
Win, but might be a little closer than the one in L.A. to start the month.
Will John Wall keep playing well, and how will Agent Zero, Gilbert Arenas, perform?
By the way, can we expect another stop at the White House when the Lakers are in Washington?
Wednesday, December 15: At Indiana Pacers
A back-to-back game and the Pacers are playing really well. Darren Collison is a fantastic pick-up by Larry Bird's Pacers. Combined with Danny Granger and Indiana is tough team to beat, especially at home.
We saw what they did to the Lakers in L.A. This one could be worst. I'll leave an opening for a Laker win here, if Bynum is back.
Combine his return with extra motivation to Kobe Bryant for the Pacers handing the Lakers that home lost at the end of November and the Lakers might sneak this one out. I doubt it, though. Still picking a loss.
Friday, December 17: At Philadelphia 76ers
Win in a close one.
Philly just hasn’t jelled and gotten it together. If they have by this time of the month, then this could be close. If they remain inconsistent as they have in November, then Laker win by double digits.
Sunday, December 19: At Toronto Raptors
Win in an easy one.
There isn't much left on this team after Chris Bosh went to Miami. Jose Calderon is a fantastic player, but the Raptors are struggling, and will continue to all year.
Tuesday, December 21: Vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Win, but close.
The Bucks' Andrew Bogut played Pau Gasol tough in the teams' first matchup. Expect him to do the same. And Brandon Jennings will give Laker point guards fits. Still a Laker win, especially since a home game.
Saturday, December 25: Vs. Miami Heat
The Lakers will be well rested after returning from their recent road trip. This will be their second home game and probably the biggest of the year, at least in media coverage.
The circus called the Miami Heat blow into town. And with all the anticipation, expect the Lakers to be ready. Will the Heat? Let the hype begin!
This one won't be as close as you expect. The Lakers' inside game, especially with Andrew Bynum more than likely back in the lineup, will prove too much for the undersized Heat to match.
But, this one will be the most fun on the perimeter, as Kobe will go at both Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. The Lakers not only have Ron Artest to defend LBJ, but now, throw Matt Barnes into the mix.
Can't wait. Still, a Lakers win.
Tuesday, December 28: At San Antonio Spurs
San Antonio is looking like the main contender in the West to the Lakers. If their December is anything like their November, then the Lakers will be meeting one of the teams with the best records in the West.
The Spurs look great and will battle the Lakers all the way. Expect a close one but since on the road, but a loss.
Wed, Dec 29 New Orleans Hornets @ New Orleans
Win, but super close.
New Orleans looks like a different team this season and Chris Paul looks reborn. Add in Trevor Ariza who arrived in a great trade and there is a reason why the Hornets have one of the best records not only in the West, but the entire NBA.
This one will be a back to back for the Lakers and comes off of playing the San Antonio Spurs the night before, So, this will be a real battle but I think the Lakers’ size and length, especially with Andrew Bynum back in the lineup, will prevail.
Even though this is a road game and the Hornets look strong, the Lakers take this one in a very close one.
Friday, December 31: Vs. Philadelphia 76ers
After a tough, short road trip, the Lakers return home with a day of rest and ready for Philly.
Win on New Year’s Eve. Probably by double digits.
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