So remember four years ago when Steve Nash and Dwight Howard had that magazine cover and it said “NOW THIS IS GOING TO BE FUN”?
Well, it definitely wasn’t fun that particular season but if I was good at photoshop, I would mock up a cover of the Laker kids with that same exact headline. Yes, this season is going to be really fun. And it was off to a good start with a 120-114 mild upset against the Houston Rockets.
No, we’re not expecting the Lakers to be challenging for the playoffs, let alone the title. But boy, was this fun to watch. Sure, it helped that the opposite team thought that defense was equivalent to chicken pox. But Luke Walton had the guys playing loose and it was like a new feeling for most of them. Players had to no longer look over their shoulders or worry about being pulled for a mistake; Luke let them play through it.
James Harden was unstoppable for most of the game for the Rockets as he went for 34 points, 8 rebounds, and an incredible 17 assists. And of course, he went to the free throw line at will like only the bearded one can. But the Lakers had surprising poise throughout the contest as they kept pace with Houston.
D’Angelo Russell (20 points) looked like he was happy to play in the NBA for the first time as he seemed to celebrate every shot he made in the first half. Nick Young (inserted into the starting line-up) didn’t have a great game offensively but did all the dirty work defensively. Sometimes, that’s all you can ask for. Julius Randle (18-7-6) had an excellent all-around game and was very controlled tonight. Brandon Ingram stayed within himself and was solid in his first NBA game (4/6 for 9 points and was a +10!).
But I was definitely happy for Jordan Clarkson, who scored 23 of his 25 points in the second half. He made a huge three to put the team up four with 1:47 left in the contest. He followed that up with a big putback 30 seconds later to get back that four-point lead. And did you see him and D’Angelo DIVE for the ball to get the steal? That was fantastic! And really fun! That play right there seemed to explain the difference between last year’s team and this year’s. I love this new crop of Lakers!
Obviously, there is a lot to fix with this team. And it was honestly hard to gauge this squad as they were going against a team that was also willing to go 100 miles per hour. But for now, let’s enjoy this win. They have a better record than the Warriors right now!
Perhaps the Lakers will be all right, after all.