Archives For Game Recap

The day I can’t be excited about the Lakers winning a game on a buzzer beater is the day I no longer want to be fan.

There’s been a lot of debate about the Lakers winning games lately. D’Angelo Russell’s shot in the clip above gave the Lakers their 4th straight win in this final stretch of the season. That’s not just the team’s longest win streak this year, it’s their longest winning streak in 4 years. Think about that. This team has been so bad they haven’t been able to win this many games in a row since the season Kobe tore his achilles. Now they’re winning and I’m supposed to…be mad? Nah.

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To many of their fans’ dismay, the Lakers have won 3 straight games. The most recent came on Friday night, pulling out a close game on the stellar play of Julius Randle and key shot making by D’Angelo Russell. Randle’s 25 points paced the team and while his 6 rebounds were below his regular output, 5 of those came on the offensive glass where he created second chance points which were key to the win.

As for Russell, he only shot 4-10 from the field for his 14 points, but he hit both of his 4th quarter shots and scored 7 points in the final period. Both shots were big ones, the first a three pointer with the team trailing by 1 with under three minutes to go. In a back and forth affair that was ready to be taken by whichever team clamped down or hit the key shots, Russell’s 3 was a key basket.

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The Lakers lost to the Wizards on Tuesday. It was their 53rd loss of the season in 74 games. They ended up losing the game by 11 points, 119-108. None of this sounds extraordinary at all. Considering the team’s record after their 10-10 start and the quality of opponent, one might even wonder how the Lakers lost by only 11.

Well, I’ll tell you how. The Lakers led most of this game. They were actually in full control heading into the 4th quarter and it took a 37-13 final frame from Washington to win. You can do the math, then, that the Lakers were ahead by 13 going into the 4th when it all sort of unraveled due to the Wizards turning up their defense, the Lakers missing some open shots, and Tyler Ennis having one of the more rough quarters I have seen for a guy who never got subbed out.

Anyways, that’s the background to the collapse, but the Lakers got to the point where they were comfortably ahead by having one of their best stretches of basketball of the season during the 3rd quarter.

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A week ago, it was D’Angelo Russell putting on a show against the Cavs and scoring a career high to carry the Lakers (though, it came in a losing effort). Friday against the Timberwolves it was his backcourt partner’s turn. Jordan Clarkson poured in a career high in points (35) and made three pointers (8), in a fantastic shooting performance which propelled his team to a win. Watching him knock down shot after shot really was a sight:

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To say I was conflicted heading into the Lakers matchup with the Suns would be an understatement. From my game preview:

I’d love to talk to you about the matchups between the young players on both teams. How I always look forward to seeing how D’Angelo Russell plays against good friend Devin Booker. How I’m interested in seeing how Julius Randle deals with the athleticism and length of Marquese Chriss. How I want to see how Brandon Ingram matches up with TJ Warren. On any other night under most other circumstances, those things would matter much more to me.

Tonight, though, these lottery implications really do take center stage. This isn’t to say I am rooting for the Lakers to lose. I’m not really capable of doing that. It’s just not in my heart to do it. But, my head does understand how these things work. The logic side of my brain fully grasps how much the standings game matters here and how it can impact things in May when the lottery order is determined.

This is the battle I think all Lakers fans are facing each night now, me included. I want the young players to do well. I want competitive games where the team plays hard. I’d even like them to win a few more games simply to feel the reward of hard work and see the correlation between effort and positive results. How those goals bump up against the realities of the draft picks the team still owes are a difficult situation to navigate from a rooting interests standpoint.

After the game, those conflicted feelings remain but I can say it still feels good to see the young guys play well and the good feeling of seeing the team win a game still remains. Especially when it’s buoyed by a fantastic performance from D’Angelo Russell who continued his trend upwards and strong play since the trade deadline.

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So, there’s a lot that happened in this game and whenever (or at least pretty often when) that’s the case I’m going to go to a bullet point recap. Sorry, I’m a blogger so I love bullet points. If you want the pure numbers, though, the Lakers beat the Knicks 121-117 and snapped a 12 game road losing streak in the process. They also got their 1st win of this five game roadie and with two games left they could actually have a winning record on the trip. I know, I’m getting ahead of myself.

On to the bullets…

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The Lakers may not be a “good” team, but they’re at least as successful as last season and there are still 31 games to play. By beating the Denver Nuggets 120-116 on Tuesday night, the Lakers earned their 17th win of the year in game #51 — equal to last season’s disastrous 82 game total. If nothing else, then, this win symbolizes a bit of progress even if the dips and struggles since the team’s 10-10 start still weigh heavy.

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The Lakers stopped their five-game skid as they trampled the Indiana Pacers, 108-96. It’s too bad that it came with a price.

D’Angelo Russell was lost for the game after he sprained his MCL on his right knee. He also has a calf strain to add to those pains. D’Angelo will have an MRI tomorrow. We also received a scare from Nick Young as he hyperextended his knee but he ended up returning to the game.

In the meantime, the game wasn’t exactly pretty as the game was mired with turnovers. The Lakers had 23 while the Pacers had 20. What the Lakers had the edge on, though, was hustle as they outboarded the seemingly-disinterested Pacer team, 51-37.

We saw a litany of missed transition hoops and dunks throughout the game. But the Lakers went on two separate surges in the second half that broke them away from Indy. They went on a 12-0 run in the third to give themselves a double-digit lead then L.A. countered with eight straight points after a Pacers bucket to start the fourth. The Lakers outscored the Pacers, 35-22, in the third as Indy stumbled their way in that period with seven turnovers.

Lou Williams led the Lakers in scoring with 27 big points; the Pacers simply couldn’t stop him. Julius Randle broke out of his offensive slump with 16 points. Brandon Ingram looked smooth as he sank three shots from behind the arc on his way to 15. Nick Young also had 15 despite being slowed by the knee. Jordan Clarkson was chaotic in the game with 7 turnovers but he did get 12 points and 5 steals. And Tarik Black contributed greatly with 8 points and 13 rebounds. We’ll forgive Timofey Mozgov for missing like 20 dunks but, at least, he grabbed a ton of boards (11), set some mean picks, and did his job inside the paint.

In the first half, the Lakers couldn’t stop Al Jefferson, who scored all 20 of his points in the first half. But the Pacers never really got it going in the second half. Paul George did end up with 21 points but Ingram essentially played him to a draw as George got some of his buckets late. Myles Turner scored 15 points but he had a hard time stopping Tarik Black. Jeff Teague had six turnovers and Thaddeus Young was mostly invisible. If anything, Sue Storm would be envious on how invisible the Pacers were in the second half of that game.

The Lakers are one win short of matching their season total from last season and we’re only in January so the team has that going. L.A. will play the Mavericks next on a Sunday matinee in Dallas. Hopefully, they can continue to build momentum there. If you still have postseason hopes, they’re four games behind the 8th seed Nuggets. Hey, if the Sixers can suddenly go on a surge, why not the Lakers?

Let’s all wish D’Angelo a speedy recovery. Let’s hope his injuries aren’t too serious.