Archives For Game Recap

This was a Christmas miracle in some way. The Lakers snapped their four-game losing streak as they beat the Clippers, 111-102.

And quite frankly, they didn’t look energized to start with as the Clippers, without their two big studs Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, played some crisp offense. It got J.J. Redick some open shots, who scored 12 in the first quarter. But the Lakers picked it up at the end of the first as they finished the period with a 9-2 rush.

It became messy in the second (especially at the end of the half), which somehow sparked the Lakers a little bit. The Clippers also became a little listless and the Lakers took advantage. They cut the deficit to three by the half.

Then in the third, the frontline got the Lakers going. They burst through with a 13-0 run and we saw some defense that we seemingly hadn’t seen in weeks. The Lakers would go on to have an overall run of 28-9 and would lead as many as 18 points. But I’m sure in the back of the fans’ minds that they would blow this lead.

And there it went as the Clippers rang off 13 straight points. But they never got closer than four points. D’Angelo Russell made a corner three. Then Lou Williams (14 points) got hot as he helped hold off the Clippers with some big buckets of his own. Nick Young put away the pesky Clips with one final three-pointer.

We got some balanced scoring from the Lakers as seven out of the nine guys that played had double figures (Mozgov and Young had 19 each). Brandon Ingram played a really good floor game where he was able to direct traffic for the offense. Russell played alongside Ingram late in the game and he did a good job playing off the ball. Thomas Robinson was one of the two players that didn’t reach double digits but his energy helped the Lakers within reach when they were trailing. Luol Deng had another double-double (13 points, 12 rebounds) to go along with his two steals and two blocks. Julius Randle returned to the line-up and went for 13-7-8.

The Clippers looked pretty good early before their offense somehow bogged down; this is where they really needed either Chris Paul or Blake Griffin to settle them down. While they had their moments where they were hitting shots, the Lakers did a good job forcing some turnovers (Clippers had 15 compared to the Lakers’ 13). When they weren’t switching wildly, they did a better job playing some positional defense in the second half. It helped that the Clippers were missing Paul and Griffin. The Clips also lost Redick, who didn’t play in the fourth due to a hamstring injury. The Lakers shot just under 48 percent while the Clips were under 44 percent.

The Lakers get their second win in December. Sure, the Clippers were undermanned but no one’s going to feel sorry for them; the Lakers will take any win. The Lakers didn’t play a complete game but at least, it ended well for them. As for what’s next, they’ll take on the grimy Utah Jazz on Tuesday. We know the Jazz would rather keep the game’s pace like they’re playing in quicksand. The next month will continue being tough for the team as Larry Nance, Jr. was diagnosed to have a bone bruise on his left knee. Injuries are never good. Hope he can recover sooner than later.

As for all of you readers, please stay healthy. Hope you guys had a Merry Christmas!

The nightmarish road trip ended for the Lakers against the Magic in Orlando. And the result was pretty much the same as most of their games as Orlando thumped the Lakers, 109-90.

The Lakers couldn’t get anything going at the start as they missed their first 10 shots. Orlando got off to a 10-0 start and the team from L.A. got rejected as many times in the first quarter as I did at a club on a regular Saturday night. The Magic blocked the Lakers nine times and were up by 25 at one point.

L.A. made a couple of runs in the second half. D’Angelo Russell scored 12 points in the third and helped cut the deficit to 8. But the Magic brought the lead back to 20 as the Lakers defense continued to have holes. Jordan Clarkson then caught fire and chopped the deficit to 6 but Orlando countered with a 13-0 run to put away the game.

It felt like they’ve taken a couple of steps back since their game against Cleveland. They have trouble playing all four quarters. If they don’t blow big leads (like they did against Miami and Charlotte), they get off to slow starts. Inexperienced teams tend to do that.

But what’s really disappointing is that the Cleveland game seemed like an aberration compared to the rest of the trip. I’m not saying they’re selfish and going after their numbers but the ball movement is no longer there. In that 10-10 start, they would fly around on defense even if they overplay and we didn’t see that for much of the trip. We saw the Magic players blow by them pretty easily. And so many shooters got open. Even though Elfrid Payton isn’t known as a shooter, he got plenty of open looks on his way to 25 points. NBA players will likely make the open shots. Serge Ibaka handled the Lakers on both ends with 19 points, 11 rebounds, and five blocks.

On the other side, Clarkson led the Lakers with 18 points while Russell scored 15 (though he didn’t score after his hot third). The Lakers turned the ball over 16 times as some of the passes looked lazy or careless. They also only shot 36 percent while the Magic shot over 50 percent. (Julius Randle didn’t play because of the birth of his child. Congrats to him and his fiancée, Kendra, by the way.)

So the Lakers still only have won one game this month (1-12 in December). What the team has to do is get back to the basics. We all understand that the injuries are part of the game. But some teams have the mentality of “next man up”; San Antonio, Memphis, and Portland have played well like that in the past few years. They don’t change their system and they thrived. The team we’re seeing now is completely different from the one that started 10-10. They gotta put forth the effort on defense and fly around, even if it means overplaying them. And they have to move the ball around more instead of trying to do it solo. Players have to play for each other instead of for themselves.

They have a big test against the Clippers on Christmas Day. We’re not expecting them to win but it would be great if they can get back to what made them good, promising, and exciting in the first place. Play within the system and they’ll be back to okay. It’s frustrating but everyone that’s invested in this team has to be patient.

Happy Holidays, everyone. Remember that this is still a game so let’s all stay happy.

I’d be lying if I said I felt no disappointment or frustration after Tuesday’s loss to the Hornets. After controlling the game for the 1st half, the Lakers struggled mightily during the 3rd quarter to let the Hornets back in. The 4th quarter became a test of execution and timely plays, with Charlotte doing a bit more of the former and on the receiving end of a few more of the latter. A loss ensued and, as per the usual, when a loss like that occurs the torches were lit and the pitchforks were sharpened.

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The Lakers were on a back-to-back and they drew the reigning, defending NBA champions at the tail end. As expected, the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Lakers, 119-108.

But the final score doesn’t tell the story of the whole game. In fact, this was one of the better performances they’ve had this season, even though they didn’t have starting point guard D’Angelo Russell (who had a sore knee and was rested by the team).

The Lakers got off to a great start as they led the Cavs, 31-23, in the first quarter. But the Cavs came roaring back as they scored 15 unanswered points. Kyrie Irving did his thing as he was weaving, scoring, and getting his teammates involved. But the Lakers didn’t let the Cavs break free. Julius Randle and Nick Young did everything they could to keep up with the champs. Jordan Clarkson, who finally had a great offensive game, beat the halftime buzzer with a lay-up and cut the deficit to three.

The three-point barrage continued from both teams. Nick Young was hot all game; he would end with 32 points and 8 shots from behind the arc. Kevin Love and J.R. Smith would do the damage for the Cavs from the outside. Later on, Clarkson and Luol Deng would join in on the act. It was your good old-fashioned shootout. We know how potent the Cavs offense was but we saw some excellent ball movement from the Lakers. L.A. was able to stay with Cleveland.

Until the end. Cleveland was hanging on to a three-point lead, 108-105, before the Lakers finally went cold. The champs took advantage and LeBron James made a three to give themselves a cushion with 2:30 left. The Lakers wouldn’t make a field goal for more than three minutes. Cleveland ended the game with an 11-3 run. Both teams combined for 31 three-pointers.

I don’t necessarily think this was a moral victory but I do think there was some growth today for this team. They’ve lost nine out of ten, sure, but the Lakers played an all-around good game in Cleveland. They were just overwhelmed and got beat by a better team. The Cavaliers are champions, after all. LeBron didn’t get off to a great start but he still finished with 26-7-9. Kyrie distributed early then got himself going offensively; he had 21 points, 6 rebounds, and 12 assists. Kevin Love, who seems to finally have it figured out in Cleveland, went for 27 points and 17 boards.

But the ball movement was crisp for the first time in weeks. They had 12 turnovers, which wasn’t bad. Nick Young, again, had eight three-pointers, which was a career-best. And he didn’t do so bad defensively, either. Julius Randle got off to a good start and ended with 16 points. Again, Clarkson had a good offensive game and scored 20 points (he didn’t pound the ball as much like dribbling was going out of style). We’re encouraged by Luol Deng. He scored 15 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. Deng made some big shots to keep the team in it. And Brandon Ingram flirted with a triple-double (9 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists). He showed some leadership out there in the point guard position; you could see him directing traffic out there. It was good to see. Larry Nance, Jr. only had two points and five boards but playing in front of your dad must feel pretty awesome. Timofey Mozgov didn’t play a great game but he did receive his championship ring (he was mobbed by his former Cavs teammates before the game started).

If they keep playing like this in the future, they should win more often than not. When they get more experience playing together, cut the little mistakes, tighten up defensively, and consistently play well in four quarters, then the Lakers will be a team to watch. Hopefully, they do most of the same play in their next game, which is in Charlotte on Tuesday.

The Lakers will be fine if they continue to make progress like this. With the expectations tapered a bit, the wins would certainly be good but the playoffs, at this point, would be gravy.

The national nightmare is over! Okay, not really a national nightmare but the Lakers finally win a game for the first time in the month of December. The Lakers beat the lowly Sixers, 100-89. L.A. got off to a 13-0 start and never lost the lead.

It’s not a pretty game by any means but the Lakers did answer to Luke Walton’s challenge. He said that the players were “mentally soft” after their disappointing loss against the Nets.

The Lakers were energized on both ends of the court early. L.A.’s defense led to a lot of transition plays (27 fastbreak points by the Lakers compared to 8 by the Sixers). And the ball movement that was lacking during the losing streak showed up mostly in the first half. The Sixers struggled to shoot from the field and the Lakers led by double digits going into the second half.

L.A. boosted the lead to 22 in the third quarter before everything that plagued them during that losing skid returned to them. The Sixers went on a 9-0 run to end the third and the deficit was down to 10 points. Philly got it down to seven twice but timely buckets by Jordan Clarkson, Luol Deng, and Julius Randle snuffed the rally. The Lakers would hold on despite a mostly lackluster fourth quarter.

We had some good balanced scoring from the Lakers as there were five players in double figures. Randle scored a season-best 25 points to go along with 9 boards, 4 assists, and 3 steals. Lou Williams continues to score well off the bench with 18 points. D’Angelo Russell (15 points) didn’t shoot well but he rebounded well (7 rebounds), made the offense go, and was telling his teammates their spots on defense. Nick Young (15 points) only played 21 minutes but he continues his good play on both ends of the court. Jordan Clarkson (10 points, 4/9 from the field) has struggled in the losing streak and he’s trying to shoot his way back, which has been detrimental to the team’s ball movement. Larry Nance grabbed 11 boards and was all over the court. And welcome back, Tarik Black, even if you only played 205 seconds.

The Sixers don’t have much offensively but we know how talented Joel Embiid is. He had 15 points to lead Philly. But Philly only shot 36 percent from the field (they went 6 for 31, .194, from three). They were scrappy enough to cut into that 22-point lead so you have to give them credit for that.

But at least, the Lakers finally snapped their eight-game skid. The NBA doesn’t stop, though, as they play the world champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers, in about 20 and a half hours. They should take note and build on this win against the Sixers. No one is expecting them to beat the champs on the road but we want to see the fighting spirit and the ball movement that defined the Lakers in their first 20 games. Maybe Luke did wake the team up a bit.

Even if it was a bit scary, good win by the Lakers.

(Also, rest in peace, Craig Sager. #SagerStrong forever.)

This wasn’t exactly the most watchable basketball game. Whether it was or not, it didn’t really matter to the Lakers as they lost for the eighth straight time, 107-97.

The ball movement was very lacking in the first half. Not only that but the second quarter proved disastrous to the Lakers. They went 4 for 19 (.211) from the field, including an 8:49 stretch where they missed 14 straight shots. L.A. also only had three assists in that first half. Neither team shot well in the first half and there were so many stoppages of play due to the number of trips to the charity stripe.

The Lakers showed a bit more life in the second half, going on a 10-0 run to take the lead. The third quarter ended emphatically with a Larry Nance, Jr. slam. Someone tell Robin Lopez that he no longer has a twin brother.

Then the Lakers’ well went dry again. They didn’t make a field goal in the last 6:18 of the game. The Nets took advantage of that and their shot-making, though not very good, was enough to beat the Lakers. Not only was the game hard to watch for the most part but for the Lakers trying to get out of this slump, it was extremely disappointing.

The Lakers only had 11 assists and that’s partly because of the Lakers’ woeful shooting (.385). The Nets didn’t shoot well, either (.384). It felt like I heard a lot of glass shattering in this contest. There were a lot of trips to the free throw line but the Lakers only shot under 62 percent on that department (21 out of 34). The Nets went 30 for 40 (75 percent). Plus the Nets outhustled the Lakers in rebounds, 61-49. Trevor Booker made up for the corpse of Brook Lopez by going for 18 boards. Three Nets had 20 or more points (Lopez, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Sean Kilpatrick).

L.A. had balanced scoring as six players had double figures (Lou Williams had 16 to lead the way). D’Angelo Russell never got going (2 for 10 from the field) because he got in foul trouble early. Julius Randle continued to struggle on his shot (2 for 8). Timofey Mozgov played well as he went for 12 and 13. And Nance, to go along with that electrifying dunk, had a good game that doesn’t show up on the numbers. But the Lakers just didn’t have enough on the offensive end. You’re not going to beat any team if you go on extended droughts like that and if you only score three points in the latter half of the final quarter.

As mentioned, it’s the Lakers’ eighth straight loss and it’s not good for the morale of the team at the moment. They lost two winnable games on the road against the Kings and the Nets. They do have another chance to redeem themselves as they go against the Sixers on Friday. Hopefully, Coach Luke Walton can get the team back to what they were doing before the long slump. They oughta move the ball more, be energized on defense, and get back that fighting spirit that was their signature for the first 20 games.

And it seemed like yesterday when all their troubles seemed so far away…

This game couldn’t be over quick enough. The Lakers got smashed in their game against Houston. The final score? 134-95. I haven’t seen them get messed up like this since… well, okay, Friday. But this was just a massacre.

The downfall could be traced all the way back to the first quarter (which really has been their downfall throughout the season; it’s like the Lakers play every game like they’re climbing K2). While the Lakers were keeping up with the Rockets’ extraordinary run-and-gun offense that basically outlaws midrange shots, L.A turned the ball over so much that it was like they were being all Santa Clauses 18 days early. 9 turnovers in the first quarter won’t get it done. The Rockets scored 43 in the first 12 minutes while the Lakers scored 27.

Houston cooled off in the second and Brandon Ingram (12 points), Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and Lou Williams all made some shots to cut the deficit to seven points. But that was as close as they got. Lou made an incredible shot from afar before the halftime buzzer to cut the deficit to 12 but that was really just a small bandage that stopped the bleeding temporarily.

L.A. couldn’t stop the Rockets from getting into the paint (68-52 edge by Houston). They were already bad at closing on shooters and we know Houston specialized on three-pointers. Rockets went on a 22-6 run in the third that ballooned the lead to 28. That basically put away all the hope the Lakers had on winning this game. The Rockets kicked the Lakers while they were down and they put a boulder on them to make sure they didn’t recover.

The Lakers shot well early but they got really careless after halftime (they only shot .391 at the end while the Rockets finished at .543). They ended up having 28 turnovers, which ties an NBA season high (the Rockets had 20 but their talent was so overwhelming compared to the Lakers). Houston also outboarded the Lakers by 13. Eric Gordon (26 points) made 8 of the Rockets’ 15 three-pointers. Patrick Beverley had a double-double (10 points, 12 assists). And James Harden did his usual damage (25 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists). Seven Rockets scored in double figures. The Lakers were led in scoring by Lou Williams once again (24 points) and Randle had a double-double (21 points, 10 rebounds). But the Lakers defense was so bad and they were so careless that you might as well have five poodles play on the court.

Luke Walton started Marcelo Huertas and Jordan Clarkson in a more conventional line-up (instead of Brandon Ingram and Metta World Peace, which they did against Utah in a giant line-up). But besides a fleeting moment in the second quarter, Clarkson never got going (3 for 13, 7 points). And Huertas was just overmatched despite a pretty good statline (10 points, 7 assists, 5 steals).

The Lakers are now 10-14. They’ve lost four straight and the injuries have really taken a toll on them. They were without D’Angelo Russell, Nick Young, Jose Calderon, and Tarik Black. It was good that Larry Nance, Jr. was back but that obviously wasn’t even close to being enough against Houston. All they can do now is throw another game in the garbage and focus against Phoenix on Friday at Staples.

Let’s just hope they don’t throw too many games into the garbage bin if they wanna keep the playoff dream alive.

Well, the Lakers fell short in a tale of two halves. The Grizzlies were able to trip up the Lakers in a game that ended in a wacky manner, 103-100.

Memphis was depleted as they were without Zach Randolph, Mike Conley, Chandler Parsons, Vince Carter, and James Ennis. The Lakers, who were playing their fourth game in five nights, were without Nick Young, D’Angelo Russell, and Larry Nance, Jr. Early in the game, Jose Calderon pulled up lame. He left the game with a right hamstring strain.

The pace was frenetic in the first half. The Grizzlies did their best to keep up as Troy Daniels (fourth-year player out of Virginia Commonwealth) had the green light to shoot from the outside. With Julius Randle in foul trouble, Lou Williams and Luol Deng (playing at the 4!) carried the scoring load. While Daniels surprisingly led the Grizzlies with 23 points, Lou was scorching with 28 points in the first half.

The Grizz slowed the game down and the Lakers, with the possible combination of fatigue and the Memphis defense, succumbed to a lot more isolation and one-on-one plays. Memphis was able to bear down and cause turnovers in the halfcourt. Still, Lou and Lu stayed hot in the fourth. Luol Deng played his best game as a Laker with 18 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 steals. Lou Williams went for 40 points on 20 shots.

It was a little back and forth before Troy Daniels made a key three to give Memphis a four-point lead. Marc Gasol would follow it up with a sweeping hook before Williams made a three-point play. After a Grizzlies miss, Lou put up a quick three that missed badly with 20 seconds left on the game clock and 16 on the shot clock. In the ensuing possession, Deng stole the inbounds pass. Randle got fouled on a three-pointer by Gasol with 5.9 seconds left. Julius missed the first two free throws before missing the third on purpose. Still, the Lakers got the offensive board but Jordan Clarkson missed a corner three. Memphis got away with the win.

We can look at this as a schedule loss. They might have ran out of gas; we know how much the Memphis defense can take out of teams in addition to the Lakers playing their fourth game out of five nights. The Lakers only scored 38 points in the second half and only Timofey Mozgov scored double digits (13 points) other than Lou Williams and Deng. We hardly saw the ball movement that Coach Luke Walton preached in the second half. We all know the Grizzlies like the grit and grind. Grounded. Grimy. Gross. Growl. The Lakers turned the ball over 18 times.

You’re probably not familiar with most of the Grizzlies players other than Marc Gasol and Tony Allen. Gasol did a lot of playmaking (19 points, 8 assists). But you gotta watch guys like JaMychal Green (16 points, 13 rebounds), back-up point guard Wade Baldwin IV (7 points, 9 assists), and the aforementioned Daniels (31 total points!). Just because you’re not familiar with them doesn’t mean you should just leave them firing away. There were so many breakdowns defensively by the Lakers in the second half. It could be fatigue or whatever but Memphis is not going to blink an eye and feel sorry for them just because their opponents are tired.

Just remember that the Lakers got beat by this guy:

No disrespect intended, Troy. You played a hell of a game. For tonight, Elvis Presley is not the king of Memphis and neither is Jerry Lawler. It’s Troy Daniels.

It’s back to the Staples Center on Monday after a 1-3 road trip for the 10-12 Lakers. We’ll see if they can get it right against the Utah Jazz.