Game Preview: Los Angeles Lakers at Philadelphia 76ers

Christian Petersen

The Lakers look to end their four-game road trip on a good note as they visit the "hometown" of Kobe Bryant, Philadelphia. A reminder of how little time is left for Kobe, and how lucky we are to have traded Andrew Bynum.

Casting Call

Los Angeles Lakers (10-14, 101.7 ppg, 99.4 ppg allowed)

  • Dwight Howard (18.2 ppg, 58.1% fg, 1.9 apg, 12 rpg)
  • Devin Ebanks (4.2 ppg, 35.3% fg, .7 apg, 2.3 rpg)
  • Metta World Peace (13.1 ppg, 42.2% fg, 1.8 apg, 5.4 rpg)
  • Kobe Bryant (29.3 ppg, 47.4% fg, 4.9 apg, 5.3 rpg)
  • Chris Duhon (4.3 ppg, 44. 8% fg, 3.9 apg, 2.2 rpg)

Philadelphia 76ers (12-11, 92.3 ppg, 94.6 ppg allowed)

Showtime

3 pm PST

Plot

After putting together a narrow win against the Washington Wizards the Lakers head to the Wells Fargo Center to take on the Philadelphia 76ers. Yes, the reviled Kobe Bryant returns to his home (or, at least one of them). Post-game Friday night Kobe went through his usual motions of answering questions and had this to say regarding playing in Philadelphia (the only time they visit Philadelphia this year. Barring an NBA Finals match-up but...).

"It’s always special. I’ve always enjoyed it. It’s always been fun. Now it becomes even more significant because it’s coming toward the end." - Kobe Bryant, Lakers.com

It's coming toward the end...

A relationship that was more hate/love in the past, though, has certainly felt more love/hate over the last few years. There's still plenty of heckling and jawing, but there were certainly more Kobe jerseys in the stands, and more cheers, than usual last season. Perhaps Philadelphia has moved on from clinging to Kobe saying he would "rip the fan's hearts out" in the 2001 NBA Finals. Or, perhaps the continued mediocrity of the Sixers has renewed focus on their own problems with their own team. It hasn't gotten any easier over there, as Andrew Bynum has yet to play a minute for the Sixers, and there is still no timetable on a return. In fact, he says he is having pain in his knee just while walking. Bynum scheduled to undergo an MRI on the 20th, but the Sixers have already said that his knees "are not the same" since they acquired him. It's certainly a relief to not have to deal with the Robocop leg of Bynum, but Mitch Kupchak gave little weight to the notion that the Lakers were placated by washing their hands of Andrew Bynum.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak downplayed whether the organization feels relieved it no longer has to worry about Bynum's extensive injury history.

"I don't know what happened between the end of last year and today," Kupchak said in a recent phone interview with this newspaper. "He played nearly every game for us last year, had a great year and had big minutes."- Mark Medina, Daily News

Yes, Mitch, certainly the Lakers would be just fine with Bynum being out indefinitely.

The Sixers are facing other injuries, though, with players that have actually, ya know, been playing for them through the season. Jrue Holiday is doubtful to play with a sprained left foot, and Royal Ivey is also listed as doubtful with the combination of a strained right groin and strep throat. Pau Gasol will be out for tonight's contest, though Pau has progressed and called himself "questionable" for Tuesday's contest against the Bobcats and "probable" for Saturday's game against the Warriors. In that same injury update Kevin Ding really went for the heart and went as far as to say that Steve Nash and Pau Gasol could both be back Saturday (at the same damn time). There has been no update on the status of Jordan Hill who sat out with back spasms Friday night. On a related note there has also been no word on whether Devin Ebanks will start at the power forward slot again.

The Sixers are one of the lowest scoring teams in the league (4th lowest at 92.3 points per game), and will likely be without their leading scorer and point guard. File this under "should wins", which have typically wound up in the "but didn't win" pile lately. In fact, all four teams involved with the Dwight Howard trade are struggling, but the Sixers are the only team that is currently above .500 (12-11). Combined, all four teams are 44-50-- a .468 winning percentage. Yes, the team that acquired the player that hasn't played yet is the only one on the winning side of .500. Oh the irony and consequences.

Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers will go into Philadelphia for one of Kobe's last few trips thome. Off to The City of Brotherly Love, a place that loves hating one of their own sons: The Fresh King of Los Angeles.

The fact of the matter is, Kobe Bryant is despised in this city for reasons which have no basis. Whether it is arrogance, jealousy, media driven comparisons to Michael Jordan, or any other unwarranted argument, fans need to realize the opportunity they have in front of them. You have a chance to watch and applaud one of the greatest athletes ever to call this city home. When you watch Kobe Bryant stick a dagger in the hearts of opposing fans, just know where that mindset originated from. - Kevin Owens, SB Nation Philly

Early tip off today, 3 pm PST. We'll catch you then.

On This Soundtrack

Jaaam (The Fresh Prince Remix)

- Drew

- Follow this author on Twitter @BallReasons

- Check out Liberty Ballers as they cope with the absence of Andrew Bynum.

- Buy Los Angeles Lakers Tickets click here

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