Archives For Game Recap

The Lakers moved to 7-5 on the season with a 125-118 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday. The win wasn’t pretty, but it counts the same in the standings. Standings, which I might add, are something fans of the team are actively watching for the first time in 3 seasons for reasons which have nothing to do with the status of owed draft picks or lottery positioning.

The game itself was a mix of highlights, pensive tension due to a scrappy Nets team, and fast paced action. The game offered roughly 110 possessions, which is even a lot for two teams who love to get up and down and a ton for just a regular NBA game. Within that breakneck tempo, there wasn’t always the highest caliber of basketball — especially defensively — but there was plenty to cheer about from both teams.

From the Lakers side, much of that adulation goes out to D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle.

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In the big picture, if you would have told me the Lakers would go 2-1 on their 3 game road trip I would have taken it happily and not even thought twice about it. I think it important to remind myself of that right now because the Lakers’ 125-99 loss to the Wolves was as ugly as the score implies. In fact, it might have been worse.

As I wrote in my game preview, I thought there might be a chance the Lakers came out sluggish and that’s what happened. The starting group wasn’t just flat, they were slow in pretty much everything they did. Slow in getting into their sets, in moving the ball, in setting screens, in closing out on shooters, in rotating to protect the paint. The result was an early hole for the bench to try to dig out of.

Typically, that’s not an issue for the Lakers’ reserves, but this game they weren’t able to really get anything going either — at least consistently. They did have a nice spurt in the 2nd quarter where they were able to apply some defensive pressure, get some stops, and then get some baskets on the other end. For that brief stint, it looked like it was going to be business as usual but then things dried up again which allowed the Wolves to take control back and close the half with a run.

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Guys, I am recapping a game where the Lakers nearly won by 30 points this season. It’s weird. But also cool. The Lakers smashed the Pelicans, 126-99.

And yeah, they did have a little bit of luck on this. I will be the first to tell you that injuries are awful. Anthony Davis basically did whatever he wanted against L.A. on the offensive end. And then he hurt his back in the third quarter when the Lakers were barely up, 63-62. The Lakers did what they had to do; they took advantage and rolled for 14 straight points. The Pelicans looked lost when they lost the Brow. Davis would eventually come back but he wasn’t fully mobile and the Lakers kept their foot on the gas pedal.

The Lakers ball movement was exquisite the entire night; the Pelicans couldn’t catch up to the basketball. They also took care of the ball, too, as they only had 10 turnovers. They made the right decisions in terms of when to attack the basket, when to shoot, and when to make the extra pass or two. All in all, the Lakers went for 36 assists (tied a season high in the NBA this season). And not only did they keep the ball moving but they converted their open shots. 55.3 percent shooting overall for L.A. and 53.3 percent (16 for 30) from behind the arc.

Lou Williams and Nick Young (15 points) had a surge in the second quarter that put them up eight. That’s another thing I never thought I would say this season, either. Brandon Ingram had nine points in the second quarter. He would eventually leave the game with a sprained ankle but, by all accounts, he should be fine for tomorrow’s game. Julius Randle nearly had a triple-double (8-11-8). Jordan Clarkson, Lou, and D’Angelo Russell all had over 20 points. And the frontcourt of Tarik Black, Timofey Mozgov, Larry Nance, and Thomas Robinson all had good moments in the game. We’re still waiting for Luol Deng to break out with a really good game; let’s hope it’s sooner than later. Still, I love that there’s little to no dropoff when the Lakers go to the bench; the non-starters scored 73 points tonight!

The Lakers have now won five of six games and they head to Minnesota as they play the Timberwolves tomorrow (who are currently playing the Clippers right now). It should be a fun game between two young and exciting teams. Get your popcorn or pizza rolls ready.

It’s early but it’s been a crazy season thus far for the Lakers. And when I say crazy, I mean it in a very good way. 6-4. Who would’ve thought?

Luke Walton was not happy after Thursday’s game against the Kings. That might seem odd considering the way his team rallied in the 2nd half, holding the Kings to 36 points over the final two periods to win the game 101-91. He was not protesting the way his team closed, of course, but rather the way they played to dig themselves the hole — at one point they trailed by as many as 19 — to need that type of 2nd half performance in the first place.

This is what Walton is trying to teach and just as lessons can be learned from losses, they also can from wins. Walton did not demean his players or question their manhood, but he did let them know coming out with lackluster energy or attention to detail is not who they want to be as a team. He drilled that lesson after a W and I’m sure he was happy to be able to do so. But, and I’ve harped on this all season, Walton is clearly coaching for something bigger than wins this season (even if wins clearly matter to him — more on that later). He’s coaching to instill his team with the right mindset, the right habits, to have them truly turn the corner and become competitive over the long haul.

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FIGHTING SPIRIT. They just keep doing it.

After a letdown against the Mavericks at home, the Lakers have won four of their last five games as they made an impressive comeback against the Kings in Sacramento, 101-91. The thing is… it really looked bleak early on.

The Lakers looked like they would either watch paint dry or watch leaves fall from a tree. They looked lethargic, fatigued, and a step slower in the first half. The young guns had 12 turnovers. Sactown took advantage; nobody seemed to be able to stop DeMarcus Cousins. He scored 18 of his 28 points in the first half. The Lakers were down as many as 19 points before they had a late surge to close out the half.

D’Angelo Russell, who looked indecisive in the first 24 minutes, caught a bit of fire as he scored eight of his 17 points in the first six minutes of the third. The Lakers did a much better job guarding Boogie as Timofey Mozgov got more physical and they did timely double-teams. In about a nine-minute stretch between the third and the fourth, the Kings only scored two points. Boogie finally did come alive in the fourth quarter but by that time, it was too late. After a deadlock at 82, the Lakers broke away with a 10-0 run that was led by Lou Williams and Nick Young. Sweet Lou scored 13 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter and continues to be that incredible veteran presence. And the resurrection of Nick Young continues. He continues to put a lot of effort on the defensive end. Swaggy P scored the last five points of that aforementioned 10-0 run that pretty much put the game out of reach. He scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half.

I know Luke Walton is still figuring out his rotations as the season goes on. It definitely helped that Larry Nance, Jr. came back for this game after he passed the concussion protocol (who, by the way, did his role as the energy guy off the bench with seven boards). But I like that Luke stayed with the hot guys. The line-up that the Lakers had during the closing stretch was Mozgov, Brandon Ingram (his length bothered the Kings on the boards and on defense), Julius Randle (he still continues to attack; he had 15 and 8), Lou Will, and Nick. I know most coaches would go back to his regular starters but I thought it was a great decision for Walton to stick with the line-up that got them the lead. And it was so encouraging to see all the other guys cheer for the team. Guys, they are so so much fun.

The Lakers did end with 21 turnovers; that is an extremely high number. And I would like it if they could get off to better starts in the game. But I like that the Lakers never stop playing; they have been in every game by the fourth quarter this season. The fight never stops with them and it is so much appreciated by the coaching staff and the fans.

They will face the New Orleans Pelicans next in Louisiana. Those birds just got their first win earlier today so they’re going to be hungry to extend that marvelous one-game winning streak.

The baby Lakers are 5-4. Over .500 after nine games. Quite a pleasant surprise.

I’m going to keep this brief because, well, I just am.

The Lakers went for their 4th straight victory on Tuesday night, but fell short against the Mavs. The game itself was a back and forth affair and one where the Lakers found themselves “in it” until the end. If going down a certain road of analysis, this is a good sign. This team competes and finds a way to either hang around or be in control long enough to make wins possible. In some games they’ve pulled it out, in others they haven’t.

Tuesday was one of those nights and there’s nothing wrong with that, really. This team was projected to win around 27 games this year. The expectation, then, should be that more often than not Tuesday’s result will be the default, not the exception.

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The Lakers are now above .500 after they beat a very game Phoenix Suns squad, 119-108. They are now 3-0 at Staples Center.

The game wasn’t exactly pretty throughout. The Suns started out of sync as they had 11 turnovers in the first half. But the Lakers were also giving the ball away and ended with 13 of those in the first 24 minutes. Still, the Lakers’ switching and rotating defense gave the Suns fits early. Phoenix only had 15 points in the first quarter and the Lakers carried a double digit lead entering the second half.

In the stretches where they did play good ball, it was a very beautiful sight. Sometimes, you just sit and smile at the Lakers’ passing. You see guys like Lou Williams and Jordan Clarkson finding open guys at the last second. And then you see that pretty forward pass by Julius Randle to Timofey Mozgov for the slam. The ball movement is what makes this team go and coach Luke Walton has done a very good job instilling this type of culture.

What’s great about this Laker team is that everyone can contribute (the Lakers bench outscored the Suns, 47-9). Nick Young started out with a steal, a basket, and an offensive board. He ended with 22 points and had that aforementioned big four-point play. Russell (11-5-6 but 2 for 11 FG) struggled with his shot again but he came up big in the fourth with a three and some good defense. Jordan Clarkson and Lou Williams (veteran presence!) combined for 32 points off the bench. Julius Randle continues to play excellent ball (18 points, 5 rebounds). Timofey Mozgov (14 points, 8 boards) put in 22 quality minutes with some cuts to the basket, good passes, and hustle on the glass. And Brandon Ingram and Tarik Black contributed a few good plays.

Still, the Lakers had a tough time stopping T.J. Warren (22 points) and especially Devin Booker (39 points). Booker is going to be a stud and, really, he helped keep the Suns in the game. They cut the lead to 93-92 before the Lakers scored 9 straight. In that middle of that run was a huge four-point play by Nick Young after D’Angelo Russell ripped the ball off of Warren’s hands. Booker was scoreless for nearly six minutes after Walton put Nick Young and Jordan Clarkson on him.

The play of the game was definitely right after Randle got into it with Tyson Chandler. The Suns were within striking distance at 104-97 with 1:38 left. Nearly the entire building was looking forward to a Randle/Chandler one-on-one battle but once Booker cheated off the wing, Randle whipped the pass to an open Clarkson for the clinching three-pointer. It was a clever move by Randle; veteran move, really. I also want to note that the Lakers outboarded the Suns, 51-40, and I noted the hustle of Mozgov. Seven Lakers had five or more boards in this game. That is some scrappiness by the team.

Meanwhile, all the positive vibes and thoughts to Larry Nance, Jr. He bumped his head on the floor in a scrum in the first half. Nance was diagnosed with a concussion; he never returned to the game and is out for their next game on Tuesday.

These baby Lakers are so fun right now and I’m not sure if anyone expected a three-game winning streak this early in the season. They have the chance to extend that winning streak against Dallas, who just won their first game earlier in the night.

It’s easy to love basketball when you’re having fun AND winning, right?

The Lakers pulled out a surprise win over the Warriors on Friday, not only by being ahead when the clock hit triple zeros but by doing so in a wire to wire fashion with a 20 point final margin. Before the game, I wrote that I was only looking for good execution and the types of incremental improvements I think is the goal of this season. Instead, I saw the Lakers play quite well on both sides of the ball and punish a Warriors’ team who shot poorly and defended even worse than that.

The Warriors’ performance might lead some to give less credit to the Lakers than would typically be the case after such a win. And when you rewatch the game and see some of the open looks the Warriors missed, I can understand that sentiment to an extent. However, what the tape also revealed was the Lakers doing so many little things well, leveraging some of their advantages against a Dubs team who is simply not as deep as previous contending versions, and also countering every run with a big bucket or stop of their own to hold off any hard charge.

These are the things winning teams do often and the Warriors game marks the second consecutive contest in which the Lakers exhibited these traits. Now, I’m not ready to call this a trend and the Lakers have a ways to go before they can be considered much more than the type of pesky opponent who will play hard and stay in games — pulling some out you do not expect. However, if we start to see these things more consistently, it will force many (including me) to reevaluate our projections for what is possible for them.

But that is a discussion for down the line. For now, here are 10 thoughts from a game I did not see coming, but was more than happy to be wrong about.

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