The Lakers come home off their 4 game road trip with only a single win, but got that W on the 2nd night of a back to back against a game Hawks team in the final game of their trip. With that, they should be feeling pretty good about themselves, given that they were finally able to get over the hump they could not hurdle in previous games which saw second half surges turn into down the stretch faltering.
It’s too early to say if that was a breakthrough or just another learning moment which may not stick as the season progresses. After all, the Lakers showed similar winning resolve on opening night against the Rockets only to fall back against the Jazz, Thunder, and Pacers. That said, it felt good to see the team pull one out and, as Luke Walton said, it was a nice reward for the hard work the team has been putting in and gives them some incentive to keep up those efforts moving forward.
This is a great point and should not be overlooked. As we have discussed in the past, it is one thing to keep players engaged and buying into their respective roles when the team is winning like what occurred under Luke Walton in Golden State during his interim stint. It’s quite another, though, to continue to get that same level of commitment when the losses start to pile up. I’m not saying that would have happened if the team had fallen to 1-4, but I am saying it’s good to be 2-3 instead.
Whatever resolve was gained with this latest win, though, will be tested tonight when the Warriors visit Staples. The Dubs are coming off a drubbing of the Thunder, a game they wanted severely for newcomer Kevin Durant who left OKC with rough feelings in his wake. And while tonight doesn’t offer the exact same situation, there may be similar “let’s get this W” drive for head coach Steve Kerr in matching up with his former top assistant. Because while I’m sure several players still have fond feelings for Luke, I’m guessing they would love nothing more than to crush his new team.
Of course, they are more than capable of doing just that. Though they are still adjusting to their new lives with KD in tow, there is no team in the league with more top end talent than the Warriors. They are also well coached by Kerr and seem to be figuring things out game by game. Yes, there are still some rough patches and some of their guys are more up and down than we are used to seeing, but when it comes right down to it they have four All-NBA caliber players, including two MVP level guys. Any hiccups they are experiencing are, in the big picture, minor. Their players are too smart and too talented to have any struggles extend for long stretches.
What does this mean for tonight? Well, the Lakers will need to be at the top of their game and in more ways than one. Individually, guys like D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, and Jordan Clarkson will need to have strong games. They need to shoot well, rebound well, and defend their matchups well. As a team, though, it means that their execution must be top notch — not only in their initial actions, but in their secondary options and counters.
The Warriors know what the Lakers are running, likely better than they do. This means LA will need to do the small things increasingly well. Screens must be set firm and on the right angles. Cuts will need to be timed well and into the proper spaces. Passes will need to be crisp, on time, and on target. If the Lakers get sloppy at all, they will be punished for it. The Warriors are just too good.
Further, the Lakers’ defense will need to be sharp. They cannot get lost off the ball, they must communicate and switch effectively, and they must contain dribble penetration as much as possible. Whether Timofey Mozgov plays or not, they cannot just rely on the back line defenders to pick up the slack and protect the paint. Because even when the ball is penetrated, it’s likely to only lead to more ball movement to open shooters who will make you pay.
Lastly, more than a competitive game, I want to see a smartly played one from the Lakers. So much of what the team is trying to build is about playing their own style, but doing so in a way with good habits which can be built upon to form the foundation of a team which competes nightly. The Warriors have a tendency of turning games in their favor by convincing opponents to try and play with them rather than their own style.
For the Lakers, this can get tricky. Like the Warriors, the Lakers want to play fast, they want to shoot threes, they want to impose tempo on their opponent. Against the Warriors, playing this style often leads to a chaotic style which suits them. The Lakers, then, must play smart by not forcing the issue. There is not matching the Warriors play. The Lakers cannot get caught up in trying to go tit-for-tat with them. Try to control the tempo, work the backboards on both ends, and manage their own game. If they do that, win or lose, I’ll be happy.
Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on Spectrum Sportsnet and ESPN.
The Warriors are looking a little tired and the Lakers are going right at them. The outside shot still isn’t falling but I like the way the team keeps getting good shots off of penetration.
Warriors are cold from the field and the Lakers have the early lead. The Lakers are attacking the basket with good ball and player movement…. early in the second they have had multiple dunks and finishes at the rim… 18 points in the paint so far. They’re taking advantage of the Warriors’ poor interior defense.
Larry Nance with a dunk for the ages!!
Must be the throwback jerseys!
Holy crap, what’s going on????
fern16 The Lakers’ 3-pt shooting slump is apparently contagious and the Warriors don’t know what to do about it.
During preseason I speculated that Lou Williams doesn’t fit this offense. I was wrong.
Lakers wearing the 86-87 throwback jerseys. Loved the Nance Jr slam dunk with authority.
Yea but the Lakers are hitting everybody else. And out hustling the “mighty” Warriors…
My joy is overwhelming!! This team is giving us a glimpse of what it could be. Amazing half. That Atlanta win filled this team with confidence. Don’t know if it would hold tonight but regardless the Lakers are putting the NBA on notice that they are no doormats anymore. The most amazing reel for me was when Steph stole the ball and went on fastbreak and got swarmed by basically the entire Lakers team couldn’t do anything since , the rest of the Warriors hadn’t even crossed the half court time. That didn’t happened last year….
Lakers with OFF Eff of 120.3 Warriors 90.7
The Lakers had 19 assists to only 5 turnovers in that first half. The ball movement was seriously impressive as was the off-ball movement. If they can sustain that sort of effort they’ll have a great shot against one of the most talented teams ever.
It deservest to be noted that the defense is porous. Looking at the box score it is notable that the Lakers don’t really have any blocks or steals. They’ve allowed open shots from three and in the paint. The Warriors are simply missing shots and the Lakers deserve credit for capitalizing on every opportunity but I’d like to see more effort on D in the second half.
fern16 That was an awesome moment!
That lob to Mozgov was gorgeous but just as impressive was D’angelo recognizing the overplay, backcutting and getting hit with an excellent pass from Julius who read it the whole way.
What is up with Deng’s hands? It seems like every game so far he has had a perfectly fine pass bounce right out of his hands.
I am speechless right now. I don’t even know how to comprehend this amount of fun.
If Curry does not make a three his making at least one three pointer in a game is over at 157.
Am really impressed with the Lakers’ ball movement and interior passing tonight. Great game plan to attack the Dubs interior. Anybody still think Lou Williams is a detriment to the team? This is a game that will serve notice that the Lakers are coming, baby!! Yeah the Warriors were cold, but the Lakers took full advantage.
What a monster win!!!!
new rr says
The next six games are against Phoenix, Dallas, @ Sacramento, @ New Orleans, @ Minnesota, and Brooklyn.
60 points in the paint… 61 bench points. Not sure how many dunks but I would guess at least a dozen. Black, Nance and Randle hustling and rebounding like demons! Definitely one to grow on!
Wow, I was just hoping for a close game. Understatement to say that this was a great game. All the work is starting to pay off. Go Lakers!
1. Go ahead and call me a wet blanket, but GS was definitely not on their game tonight….
2. The confidence this team has–whether warranted or not is yet to be seen–was on full display tonight. They carried over their effort from the ATL game and turned back every “push” GS made.
Speaking of which…
3. I speculated after the ATL game about “what it all meant” that Calderon and Huertas spent the last game nailed to the bench. Tonight confirmed that might (emphasis on “might”) not be just a blip. They were DNP’s again tonight. DAR played only 22 minutes tonight. LAL played 26 minutes without a “true” PG on the floor. Those minutes were filled with Lou as the de facto lead guard. This to me looks like the first “props to Luke” moment of the year–if it continues to provide results. Lou isn’t a “plus” defender or a classic playmaker at the point, but he is better at scoring and defending than either of the other two candidates for backup lead guard. I, like many others, questioned what Lou’s “purpose” on this team was going to be. It’s an admittedly small sample size, but these past two games have provided some insight into what his role might be. It’s too early to tell if these last two games are just a statistical blip, or a sign of good things to come, but I’ll be very interested to see if Luke sticks to Lou Williams as quarterback of the second unit for the near term, and in what the results of that decision will be.
Ok, maybe four observations. LA’s first six opponents are now a combined 20-14 (17-11 excluding games played against the Lakers). Their weakest two opponents were faced on the road, and they’ve won both of their home games. This hasn’t been the kindest six game stretch a young team starting over, with a new coach and philosophy could have been handed to start the year. At risk of waxing rhapsodic, I think 3-3 is about as good a start as anyone could have reasonably expected. Now comes the real test. The next six games are eminently winnable (combined record of 7-26). I’ll be very interested to see how this team handles some success.
new rr says
It is fair to point out that GS was on the second game of a B2B and had a very off night, so you are not being a wet blanket–you are just looking at context, which we should all do. But still the Lakers won by 20 a team that has won 140 games the last two years and added Kevin Durant. That is something for the players, coaches and the fanbase to feel good about. I certainly feel good about it.
4-2 would be great!!! I expect 3-3. Phoenix and Minnesota should be the only difficult games.
The best comment ever!!!!
Thank you. I’ve been trying to tell everyone. Luke looks at him as our veteran leader on the court.
30twhite40 The jello is jiggling!
new rr mindcrime
No dispute from me about the value of the win. I don’t care how you win against a team like Golden State–because you played well, because they played poorly, because they were playing with a team-wide case of influenza, etc. That’s a high-quality win for this team under any circumstance. I think I’m just instinctively trying to reign in my enthusiasm.
Clay Bertrand says
I agree the win is a good win even under the circumstances and I get you on reigning in the enthusiasm and being a realist. However, as a bit of contrarian ballast to the notion that the Warriors were on the 2nd of a back to back:
Didn’t the Lakers, a vastly INFERIOR team to the Warriors without question, just win the second of a back to back, ON THE ROAD, travelling from Indiana to Atlanta in the process?? The Warriors, favorites to win the championship for the foreseeable future, won a huge blowout game and then (GASP!!) had to endure sleeping in their own beds and taking a whole 50 minute flight to LA from SF before crapping the bed at Staples against our supposedly Lottery bound team.
IOW, the W’s had a subpar/letdown game after an emotionally charged win the night before. That’s life in the NBA. And fair enough turnabout, we get the EXACT SAME schedule AND THEN SOME when we play the Warriors in a couple of weeks.
Get this: We play OKC, at home then fly to play the Ws the next day on the second of a B2B—(same as they had to do their last 2 games). But THEN, we return home and have one day off before……YEP—Playing the Ws AGAIN at Staples.
Tough test for our young team all the way around.
I like the early resiliency of the team and I hope Luke can preserve this quality in his young players over this long season.
Clay Bertrand says
I was saying this continuously for 2 hours last night!!!! lol
Seems we are into a new era, some call, “The Baby Lakers” with baby sitters.
Reminds me of Popeye’s nephews getting into trouble, then finding the spinach when they need it the most.
There were so many highlights I laughed the whole night.
Go Lakers !