Los Angeles Clippers (1-0) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (0-2)
Kobe Bryant does not want anyone talking about this game. You know, ESPN should probably go ahead and not show it. Because all they will talk about is how the Lakers are struggling to grasp the Princeton Offense and have two losses to their name already.
So Bryant is telling everyone to shut up about the Lakers and their struggles and Dwight Howard goes out and is Dwight Howard, making a joke about it. Yep, Los Angeles is a regular Hollywood story already.
It is not easy though to integrate two new key players into a new offense though. It takes more than a training camp and it will take more than a few games. Just like the Heat a few years ago, it was asking a lot for everyone to come in and immediately mesh well and win convincingly. Then again, Dallas is an OK team, particularly without Dirk Nowitzki, and Portland, while a tough place to play, is not among the West's elite.
The Clippers, though, are.
They scored a nice, gritty victory over the Grizzlies in their opener, with Blake Griffin taking every hit that Zach Randolph could dish out. Los Angeles' other team showed a lot more balance as the bench produced for the Clippers. That is where the Lakers have their biggest weakness too.
Jamal Crawford came off the bench and scored 29 points and Eric Bledsoe had 13 off the bench. That could spell trouble for the Lakers tonight when the second units are in.
Other Storylines to Watch
-The Lakers will be without Steve Nash tonight. That means Steve Blake and Chris Duhon will have to step in and play the point guard for the Lakers. That might be a good thing though. Nash was not handling the ball much anyway. But they are both clearly downgrades from Nash.
-OK, the bench played fantastic last time out for the Clippers. Are the starters ready to come along? To defeat the Lakers, the Clippers will need more than 23 points from Griffin and Paul to win the game. It worked Wednesday to have Crawford do the scoring. That may not fly this time around with a much hungrier Lakers team in front of them.
Tonight's Other Games
Indiana Pacers (1-0) vs. Charlotte Bobcats (0-0)
D.J. Augustin returns to Charlotte after signing a free agent contract with Indiana. Augustin is likely coming off the bench, but at one point the Bobcats believed he was their point guard of the future. That did not quite work out. And it appears Augustin did not want to stay in Charlotte. Bobcats GM Rod Higgins said the Bobcats offered Augustin more than he got in Indiana.
Denver Nuggets (0-1) vs. Orlando Magic (0-0)
Everyone wants to know how the Magic will play without Dwight Howard. So here is Game One of the post-Dwight Howard era. will this team be an absolute flop or is this team going to be barely mediocre? These are important questions! OK, I might be the only one who cares.
Milwaukee Bucks (0-0) vs. Detroit Pistons (0-0)
The Bucks think the Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis tandem can be one of the best guard tandems in the NBA. So now is the time to prove it. The Celtics are one of the best defenses in the league, but struggled against the Heat. So both teams have something to prove. Offense or defense. Who ya got?
Houston Rockets (1-0) vs. Atlanta Hawks (0-0)
So what does James Harden do for an encore? Harden put in the performance of the early season proving he fit in just fine with his new team despite no training camp and probably one practice, if that. So one game, another practice, Harden has to go for 50 right? Right? Probably not. But here is another challenge in Atlanta.
Chicago Bulls (1-0) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (1-0)
Apparently, Cleveland still holds a grudge over what Joakim Noah said about the fine city of Cleveland during the 2010 Playoffs. They might get booed. But for the first time since LeBron James left, the Cavaliers might actually win. Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving turned in fantastic games in the opener. The Bulls still play some fantastic defense and Irving will have to be ready to have a good defensive team's attention squarely on him.
Miami Heat (1-0) vs. New York Knicks (0-0)
This game feels a bit awkward. It has all the star power you could want, but the news of what New York is going through matters so much more. This game will be played with a heavy heart and thoughts for those affected by Hurricane Sandy. The New York City Marathon was canceled and the show here must go on. So the Garden opens up for this season. Whether that helps a storm-ravaged city is another question.
Portland Trail Blazers (1-0) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (0-1)
Russell Westbrook took the blame for the late game gaffes that cost the Thunder a big road win in San Antonio to open the season. He got lost on a couple defensive plays that allowed Tony Parker to clinch the game. His poor pass to Kevin Durant (who did not make a good cut, in fairness) cost the Thunder even a chance for the go-ahead bucket. westbrook should have a big game tonight.
Utah Jazz (1-0) vs. New Orleans Hornets (0-0)
Eric Gordon's injury seems to be the big news coming out the Crescent City. Gordon will not have surgery on his troublesome knee. So where does that leave New Orleans? The Hornets are still figuring that out. But the way they played against the Spurs in the opener was very encouraging. And the Jazz should provide another good challenge for Anthony Davis.
Detroit Pistons (0-1) vs. Phoenix Suns (0-1)
If you watch this game on League Pass tonight… good on you. There does not seem to be a whole lot of intrigue between these two teams. The Suns looked OK in a game against the Warriors on Wednesday. The Pistons got torched by Harden and the Rockets. It will continue to be interesting to see how Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe develop together.
Memphis Grizzlies (0-1) vs. Golden State Warriors (1-0)
Andrew Bogut will make his home debut in a Warriors uniform. He played in the first game of the season, but it appears Mark Jackson will bring him back slowly. Bogut will play against the bullish Grizzlies (he better be ready) but he should sit out tomorrow night for the Warriors. The Golden State team becomes much more dangerous with Bogut in the lineup because it allows David Lee to move to his more natural power forward position.
Tonight's Fantasy Picks
F Kevin Durant, Thunder (vs. Blazers)
F DeMarcus Cousins, Kings (@ Timberwolves)
C Marc Gasol, Grizzlies (@ Warriors)
G Brandon Knight, Pistons (@ Suns)
G J.J. Redick, Magic (vs. Nuggets)