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Open Game Thread #11: Pacers vs. Lakers

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The Los Angeles Lakers visit the Fieldhouse Tuesday night to take on the Indiana Pacers. This past offseason was full of Jermaine O'Neal to the Lakers stories with any Kobe Bryant dissent leading to trade speculation.

Since linking up with Jim O'Brien, Jermaine O'Neal has said all the right things about wanting to remain a Pacer. But...while pondering this game, I couldn't help but wonder how J.O. would play. Deep down in places J.O. doesn't realize, he has an interest in playing with Kobe in L.A. I realize many folks think it's a pretty shallow dig to get to those emotions, but I can only go on J.O.'s words for now.

We all know J.O. has been struggling on offense as he works himself into shape and deals with a balky left knee. He's done a good job passing the ball and finding the open man in O'B's system, but scoring around the bucket has been a struggle. According to Bruno's Scouting Report J.O. is amped for the Lakers' game because he's closing in on being 100%.

"I look at where we're at right now and where I'm at physically, I'm on schedule to get back to where I need to be," he said. "Obviously, I need to score some more points, get some more rebounds, block some more shots but we're only 10 games in and we kind of game myself a 10-game cushion to get my rhythm going, get my cardio going. I'm really looking forward to (Tuesday's) game to really pick it up on the offensive end of the floor."
Merely a coincidence? Will J.O. be auditioning for the Lakers? If he pumps in 28 points with 12 plus rebounds, those questions will be hard to avoid.

If J.O. does put up 28 and 12 I'll be thrilled, since the Pacers will be tough to beat with that type of production. Of course, I'll still be checking out Andrew Bynum and a couple of young guards for the Lakers.

Projected Starters
PACERS pos. LAKERS
Jermaine O'Neal F Brian Cook
Mike Dunleavy F Lamar Odom
Troy Murphy C Chris Mihm
Danny Granger G Kobe Bryant
Jamaal Tinsley G Derek Fisher

After a couple of days off, Marquis Daniels and Troy Murphy should remain active, leaving only Ike Diogu out for injury. Feel free to leave your thoughts on J.O. and the game in the comments.