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Ready Or Not, Here Come The Lakers

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The Indiana Pacers have been a fragile bunch this year.

With their thin margin of error it seems like there's always a mitigating factor the team has to overcome, whether that be injuries or the schedule or simply a dormant shooting touch. Wins just haven't come easy for this team.

Well, tonight the mitigating factors are piled up and most of them will be wearing forum blue uniforms. Ready or not, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakersare in town to take on the Pacers at Conseco Fieldhouse. This is a good thing, really.

As Bruno points out in his Scouting Report, the Lakers always seem to bring out the best in the Pacers. Both games last season went down to the final possession with the teams splitting the season series. The key question tonight: Can the Pacers will survive playing small against the long front court of the Lakers? As a follow up: Do they have a choice?

I'd say no. The Pacers are a team that plays best with a small lineup and they certainly have to play their best against the Lakers, so let 'er rip. The games sets up about as well as it could for the Pacers, too.

The Lakers were lauded in Washington D.C. yesterday with a White House visit to honor their championship. They used all of the juice from that visit to dispense with the Wizards last night, so it's only human nature for the players to exhale and look across the locker room hoping someone else will get up for the Pacers tonight. Sounds good doesn't it?

Plus, in the Lakers world, they've been struggling in January. The team is 9-5 in the new year (I know, whah!!!). Ron Artest missed a few games, then Pau Gasol missed a few games. Heck, Andrew Bynum missed a plane.

One little problem, though. Kobe Bryant may or may not be human, so all of the above doesn't necessarily apply to him. Kobe is supposedly dealing with various little injuries although he continues to play around 40 minutes a night and maintain his 28 PPG average. I have a feeling he'll show up tonight.

The good news is that the Pacers should show up too. The Fieldhouse will be electric and the Pacers should be rested and ready to go from the opening tip.

After the jump a few links of interest including more on Kobe and LeBron Jame visiting, upcoming CBA negotiations and Greg Oden's terrible day yesterday.

Pacers get close looks at both LeBron and Kobe
With Kobe Bryant and LeBron James both due in town this week, Mike Wells checked in with a few Pacers to see how they compare the two MVP candidates.

Kobe, LeBron make this a big box-office week for Pacers
Bruno's latest CITW daily finds the Pacers looking forward to the NBA elite blowing through town this week, along with Danny Granger's ideal Super Bowl matchup.

Ron Artest feels bad about missing White House visit
Ronnie went with the "2 1/2 hour flu" while his teammates were honored for their NBA championship last season at the White House. Not a bad move since he was the only Laker not on the roster last season. Speaking of

Los Angeles vs. Washington - Recap
After visiting the White House the Lakers took care of the business that brought them to D.C., beating the Wizards.

CBA Negotiations Could Get Ugly
Chris Broussard relays some not-so-comforting news about the pending CBA negotiations between the NBA owners and players. The mammoth guaranteed contracts have to be dealt with but I wouldn't expect the players to agree. Of course, another lockout may leave teams with no money to pay those mammoth deals even if the players get everything they want.

Greg Oden Admits Nude Pictures Are Real, Apologizes, Is "Embarrassed"
Greg Oden has had some really good days and some really bad days over the past few years. I'd say yesterday has to rank up there as one of his worst days.