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Lakers Vs. Nets: Andrew Bynum Finding His Groove, Steve Blake Struggling

The Los Angeles Lakers look for their seventh straight win as they host the New Jersey Nets at Staples Center. The Lakers have beaten the Nets six straight times, including a 99-92 win in New Jersey on December 12. With a win tonight, the Lakers would end the first half of their season with 30 wins in their first 41 games.

The Lakers are coming off a thrilling comeback win Wednesday in Oakland, erasing a 14-point deficit to defeat the Warriors 115-110. The Lakers were especially prolific in the fourth quarter, dropping 46 points, the first time they have ever scored that many points in the fourth quarter. The last time the Lakers scored 46 points in any quarter was November 29, 2007 against Denver. That game came four days after the last time the Nets defeated the Lakers.

New Jersey native Andrew Bynum has excelled since his return to the starting lineup. Bynum is averaging 13.7 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks in 27.9 minutes in nine games as a starter, during which the Lakers are 8-1. Bynum is shooting 58.9% from the field during that span, and his last game -- in which Bynum made four of 11 field goal attempts -- was the only one in which Bynum didn't make at least half of his shots.

One Laker who hasn't been shooting well of late is Steve Blake. The reserve point guard has made just 31.6% of his field goals in his last 19 games, shooting just 25% (11 of 44) from beyond the arc. C.A. Clark of Silver Screen and Roll thinks Blake should shoot his way out of his slump, and made a compelling case:

I have no idea whether he is nervous because of his poor shooting, or whether he is trying to be the perfect teammate and provide for others, or whether he has simply always been a non-aggressive offensive player, but Blake has turned down more open shots than he's made, and that isn't what his role in the triangle calls for.  It's an admirable quality that he attempts to turn down long range shots for the extra pass and (theoretically) better team shots, but you can see when he gets the ball on the perimeter, the "true" point guard in him kicks in as his man closes out, and you usually see a pump fake and dribble drive.  That's great some of the time, but more often than not, he's got enough space to get the shot up un-contested, and he's far superior in catch and shoot situations as compared to anything off the dribble.

Tonight's 7:30 p.m. PST game will be televised, as usual, by Fox Sports West.

For more Lakers news and analysis, be sure to read Silver Screen and Roll.