Carroll's Keys: Lakers at Warriors 

April, 18, 2012
The Los Angeles Lakers have played six games without the services of Kobe Bryant, who has been out with a shin injury. The Lakers have won four of those games and had impressive performances versus San Antonio, Denver and Dallas. Los Angeles has received excellent play from Ramon Sessions, Matt Barnes and Metta World Peace during that time, but it has been the play of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum that has carried the Lakers. Bynum has become a major focal point of the Lakers' offense, averaging 21.8 points and 15 rebounds over those six games, including a 16-point, 30-rebound performance against the Spurs.

The Golden State Warriors are closing out the season with Andrew Bogut, Stephen Curry and David Lee on the bench. Winning games is not their most important objective at this point; they are out of the playoffs and appear to be “tanking” games to finish with a top-seven pick (otherwise, the pick goes to Utah). The one bright spot of this season for the Warriors has been the play of their Rookie of the Year candidate Klay Thompson. Thompson has been terrific for the Warriors since he was inserted into the starting lineup, scoring over 17 points per game. Although this has been a difficult first year for head coach Mark Jackson, he does have a bright future if he can put Curry, Thompson, Lee, Bogut and a talented draft pick on the court for the Warriors next season.

Key Injuries: Bryant is still out with a shin injury. Lee (groin/hip) was just shut down by the Warriors last week.