Los Angeles Lakers: Predicting How Kobe Bryant and Co. Will Fare in January

Pat Mixon@patmixonSenior Analyst IDecember 29, 2010

Los Angeles Lakers: Predicting How Kobe Bryant And Co. Will Fare in January

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    The marathon known as the 2010-2011 NBA season continues into the new year. With the way the Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers performed in December, the question has to be asked: How will they fare in 2011?

    And, is this team real or imposter's, simply look-a-likes of the true Lakers?

    So, will the Lakers continue their up and down ways? Or, will they right their ship and go on a long winning streak?

    The road doesn’t get any easier in the new year. The only saving grace is that the Lakers have played more games on the road to start the season than nearly every other team in the league. This fact results in a nice streak of home games for Los Angeles.

    For the Lakers, the only month that truly matters is June. But January will be a proving ground, or a re-proving ground. It will be a time for LA to re-establish their dominance and remind everyone that they are the two-time defending champs.

    I had predicted the outcome of the Lakers’ December games at 13-2. As it stands now, on December 29th, after the loss last night in San Antonio, the Lakers’ record sits at 8-5, with two games left to close out the year against New Orleans and Philadelphia.

    So, while I was dead on with the win/loss predictions for the month of November, I’ve slipped badly in December. 

    Actually, the Lakers slipped. Hopefully, not only do I redeem myself in January, but so do the Lakers.

    Here are each of the Lakers’ games in January, key factors of each contest, and the predicted outcome.  

Sun, Jan 2: Vs. Memphis Grizzlies

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 02:  Marc Gasol #33 of the Memphis Grizzlies drives past Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers to the basket during the first quarter at Staples Center on November 2, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User express
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Win, but closer than you think.

    Memphis has been playing well but not as consistent as I thought by this time of the season. Regardless, they are a talented team. Also, it's always fun to see how Pau Gasol will do against his younger brother, Marc Gasol. 

Tue, Jan 4: Vs. Detroit Pistons

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 17:  Ben Gordon #7 of the Detroit Pistons is defended by Ron Artest #37 and Lamar Odom #7 of the Los Angeles Lakers in the first half at Staples Center on November 17, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressl
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Win, by double digits.

    Ben Gordon, Rodney Stuckey an Co. visit Staples Center and look for a Laker blowout. Expect Kobe, Pau and the other starters to sit for the fourth quarter. Detroit is not a good team and only an unfocused Laker team would allow the Pistons to even dream they have a chance.

Wed, Jan 5: Vs. Phoenix Suns

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    PHOENIX - DECEMBER 23:  Marcin Gortat #4 of the Phoenix Suns jumps for a rebound during the NBA game against the Miami Heat at US Airways Center on December 23, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Heat defeated the Suns 95-83.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly ackn
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Win.

    This will the the first time the Lakers will play the new look Phoenix Suns with newly acquired Marcin Gortat and Vince Carter. These new players won't be enough to help Steve Nash & Co. as they visit LA. The Lakers look to roll in this one.

Fri, Jan 7: Vs. New Orleans Hornets

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 08:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers ccontrols the ball against Chris Paul #3 of the New Orleans Hornets on November 8, 2009 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Win but single digits.

    The New Orleans Hornets started the season looking like a serious contender in the Western Conference. But the team has cooled off the last month or so. Regardless, the Lakers will have their hands full as Chris Paul visits LA. Expect a close one.

Sun, Jan 9: Vs. New York Knicks

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    MIAMI - DECEMBER 28:  Guard Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat and Forward Amar'e Stoudemire #1 of the New York Knicks battle for the ball at American Airlines Arena on December 28, 2010 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    Win but could come down to a final shot by Kobe Bryant.

    The vastly improved New York Knicks make their only visit to the Lakers and this will be an exciting game. Not only do the Knicks play an up-tempo pace, but Knick Amar'e Stoudermire is a legit league MVP candidate.

    This will be a fun game to watch and should be a ride all the way.

Tue, Jan 11: Vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 25: Mo Williams #2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives against Derek Fisher #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on December 25, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that,
    Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

    Win, by double digits.

    The Cleveland Cavaliers come into Staples without King James for the first time. As a result, look for a big and easy Laker win. While first year head coach Byron Scott is milking every last drop out of the limited talent that the Cavs possess, it won't be enough against the Lakers.

Wed, Jan 12: At Golden State Warriors

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    OAKLAND, CA - MARCH 15:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers in action against the Golden State Warriors during an NBA game at Oracle Arena on March 15, 2010 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downl
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Win.

    The Golden State Warriors are actually a good team. They've been close in nearly every game they have played but just can't seem to get over that hump. They have some nice pieces, especially at guard in Stephen Curry and Monte Ellis.

    But, it won't matter against Kobe and Co. Lakers take this one in a high scoring affair.

Fri, Jan 14: Vs. New Jersey Nets

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    BOSTON - NOVEMBER 24:  Jordan Farmar #2 of the New Jersey Nets drives to the net in the second half against the Boston Celtics on November 24, 2010 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeated the nets 89-83. NOTE TO USER: User expressl
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Win, in an easy one. Unless the Nets somehow have picked up Carmelo Anthony in a blockbuster trade.

    Otherwise, this is a blowout, by double digits. 

    Look for ex-Laker Jordan Farmar to return to LA and be given his championship ring from last season. We love Jordan but his play won't help as the Nets will lose badly to the Lakers.

Sun, Jan 16: At Los Angeles Clippers

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 08:  Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers falls to the florr after being fouled by Matt Barnes 9 (L) of the Los Angeles Lakers as Ron Artest #15 also defends at Staples Center on December 8, 2010 in Los Angeles, Califor
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Win, but close.

    A so called road game will see the Lakers battling to the wire with their co-tenants of Staples Center.

    Look for the new human highlight film, Clipper Blake Griffin, to have another of his growing list of monster and Sports Center dunks.

    But, expect Kobe Bryant to pull out the win as the experienced Lakers get it done as time winds down.

Mon, Jan 17: Vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 27:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder posts up Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers during Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on April 27, 2010 in Los Ange
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Loss, in a close one.

    Look for Kevin Durant and the Thunder having something to prove as they roll into LA. And, they will surprise the Lakers with a close victory. The upstart Thunder are looking to get over the hump and that means beating LA. 

    They'll catch the Lakers here in a tight one, that possibly comes down to Durant hitting a last second shot.

Wed, Jan 19: At Dallas Mavericks

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    DALLAS - FEBRUARY 24:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers passes against Dirk Nowitzki #41 and Shawn Marion #0 of the Dallas Mavericks on February 24, 2010 at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Loss.

    The Mavs will be out to prove they are one of the best teams in the West and they'll get it done against the Lakers at home. 

    Expect a close game and look for Kobe Bryant to keep the Lakers in this one. But Dirk and Co. will be too much to handle with too much to prove.

Fri, Jan 21: At Denver Nuggets

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    DENVER - NOVEMBER 11:  Ron Artest #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers battles for position with Carmelo Anthony #15 of the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on November 11, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Lakers 118-112.  NOTE TO USER: User
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Win.

    Normally in the Mile High City, this is a loss. But the Lakers take this one whether Carmelo Anthony is still with the Nuggets or has been traded. If he's still in town, he'll be dis-interested and the Lakers will take a tight one.

    If Melo is gone, then the Lakers roll in a blowout. Either way, Lakers win.

Tue, Jan 25: Vs. Utah Jazz

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 04:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers gets tied up with Deron Williams #8 of the Utah Jazz in the fourth quarter during Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 4, 2010
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Win, but close.

    The Jazz in LA is much better than playing them in Salt Lake City. But, don't underestimate this talented team.

    Look for Deron Williams and his Jazz to battle Kobe & Co. in a super tight one. But expect Kobe to pull this one out.

Fri, Jan 28: Vs. Sacramento Kings

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    LAS VEGAS - OCTOBER 13:  Tyreke Evans #13 of the Sacramento Kings drives ahead of Ron Artest #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers during their preseason game at the Thomas & Mack Center October 13, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Lakers won 98-95. NOTE TO USER: U
    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Win, by double digits.

    This will be a "rest the starters" in the 4th quarter game as LA will blowout the struggling Kings. Will Sacramento's Tyreke Evans have found his groove by this time of the year to start helping the Kings improve? Probably not. 

    Easy Laker victory.

Sun, Jan 30: Vs. Boston Celtics

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 17:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks to move the ball as he is double-teammed by Ray Allen #20 and Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 17, 2010 in Los
    Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

    Win, but close.

    This is called the "Save the Best For Last" game. The last game of January will also be the best. And, the most important.

    Hopefully, the Lakers will have found some rhythm and momentum by this late January game. They'll need it as one of the best, if not the best, teams in the NBA storm into LA.

    The Celtics have flown under the radar this year with all the hype of the Miami Lukewarm or the surprising San Antonio Spurs or powerhouse Dallas Mavericks.

    But Boston is for real and better than last year. Hopefully, the Lakers with center Andrew Bynum completely back in the fold will be able to take this game.

    This is a must watch game and should be fun as the Lakers end the month of January with a big and important win.

    Want to learn the details of Kobe Bryant’s legendary work ethic? Or why Kobe considers himself a “talented overachiever” or an “outcast” for much of his life? Check out the new book, The Kobe Code: Eight Principles For Success- An Insider's Look into Kobe Bryant's Warrior Life & the Code He Lives By, at www.PatMixon.com.

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