The challenge for the Lakers on this week’s three-game trip is to at least hold their own on the backboards.
Generally, the Lakers are a good rebounding team.
But after they gave up 16 offensive rebounds to Oklahoma City on Sunday, Coach Byron Scott was so disturbed that he drove home his goal for the Lakers’ games at Charlotte on Tuesday, Miami on Wednesday and Memphis on Friday.
“The main thing is once the ball is in the air, we’ve got to do a much better job of keeping guys off the glass,” Scott said after Sunday’s loss snapped the Lakers’ three-game winning streak.
It didn’t matter to Scott that the Thunder is the top-ranked rebounding team in the NBA that averages 47.6 per game and the second-best offensive rebounding team with 12.4 a game.
Scott was upset because his team didn’t put up a fight under the glass. The Lakers ranked 12th in rebounds (43.9) and eighth in offensive rebounds (11.8) before Monday night’s games.
Charlotte is ranked 11th in the league in rebounding (44.0) and tied for 23rd in offensive rebounds (10.1). Hornets center Al Jefferson was tied for 15th in rebounds, averaging 8.8 per game.
“We’ll be ready for Charlotte on Tuesday,” said Lakers forward Ed Davis, whose 7.2 rebounds in a reserve role is second on the team behind Jordan Hill’s 8.0 rebounds per game.
Miami was ranked last in rebounds in the league (38.4) and next to last in offensive rebounds (8.9).
But Heat center Hassan Whiteside, who has been in the team’s rotation for only two months, has been a force on the boards. In the 31 games Whiteside has played, 16 of them starts, he has averaged 9.6 rebounds, 3.0 offensive. He twice had a career-high 24 rebounds this season.
And then there is Memphis, one of the NBA’s top teams that has perhaps the best frontcourt in the NBA. The Grizzlies were ranked 19th in rebounds (43.0) and tied for 20th in offensive rebounds (10.5).
Memphis forward Zach Randolph was tied for fifth in the league in rebounding, averaging 11.7 per game, while center Marc Gasol was averaging 8.0 rebounds.
“We’re playing against a team in Charlotte that has a guy [Jefferson] who is going to try to offensive rebound every time,” Scott said. “Memphis, I’m pretty sure that those two big guys [Randolph and Gasol] are going to try to offensive rebound and beat you up. So these next two out of three for sure, that’s going to be a priority.”
Scott was reminded that the Heat does have Whiteside.
“That’s true, Whiteside as well,” Scott said. “So all three games.”
Scott has tinkered with his starting lineup in recent games, but he said he’ll keep his starters intact.
That means Jordan Clarkson, Wayne Ellington, Carlos Boozer, Ryan Kelly and Robert Sacre will start Tuesday night.
LAKERS VS. CHARLOTTE
When: 4 p.m. PST, Tuesday.
Where: Time Warner Cable Arena.
On the air: TV: TWC SportsNet, TWC Deportes; Radio: 710, 1330.
Records: Lakers 16-42, Hornets 24-33.
Record vs. Hornets: 1-0.
Update: Jeremy Lin has averaged 17.0 points in his last five games. Since the Hornets acquired point guard Mo Williams from Minnesota, he has averaged 23.4 points on 42.2% shooting from three-point range in five games. Despite their losing record, the Hornets are in the hunt for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.