The Lakers played a strong second half to come back and beat the Kings on Thursday night and then hopped on a plane to New Orleans to continue their road trip. The NBA grind stops for no one and today’s game against the Pelicans will be the Lakers’ sixth game on the road of their first 10 contests. The trip ends with another game tomorrow against the T’Wolves.
That Wolves game is a match up against two up and coming teams and, just as I did with this sentence, it would not surprise me to have some on the Lakers looking forward a bit to Sunday. That, however, would be a mistake for a few reasons. One, the Lakers aren’t good enough to look past any opponent. And, two, while the Pelicans are only 1-8 on the season, they have Anthony Davis who is, well, a monster.
Davis is averaging 31 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks, and 2 steals a game. After last year, there were whispers wondering about Davis, his durability, and ability to carry a franchise. In some ways, those are fair — Davis has missed a lot of time to injury and his team’s have not performed as well as you would like for them to considering how heralded a player he is. However, some of those whispers then translated to people, whether inadvertent or not, starting to question how good Davis actually is.
That was always a mistake. Again, Davis a monster.
The Lakers will need to find a way to deal with him, then. Stopping him isn’t going to happen, so that’s not what I’m talking about. It’s more about what type of approach do they want to take in trying to limit him and how far are they willing to go to make that happen. Will they double him hard? Will they let him work in isolation, but cover everyone else tightly? Will they feint and recover or half help? The rest of the Pelicans’ players aren’t that great (no offense to them, but they are missing Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans, and this team is 1-8 for a reason), but they are NBA talents who can hit open shots and get hot at home.
The Lakers need to take this match up seriously and try to come out early with the needed energy to take control of the game. If they do that, it may not matter how great Davis is. He may be the best player on either team, but if creating a team from only the players on both squads the Lakers would probably make up 12 of the 15 players. They are deeper and that should matter.
I won’t get much into individual match ups, but I do want to mention that I would like to see D’Angelo Russell play well in this game. It’s not just because he is due for a breakout game (he is) or because I am down on him this year (I am not), but because he’s better than he’s shown to start the year and I think he knows it too. After the win over the Kings, Russell was asked about his turnovers and basically said that when he’s looking to pass he turns the ball over but when he’s simply being aggressive, he does not.
This falls in line with my own thoughts about Russell when I explained in my recap to the Kings game: Russell is a shot maker at heart and I’d like to see him leverage his scoring more rather than look to be a pass first player. The passing and assists will come with aggressiveness which threatens the defense. They will respect his scoring which will impact how they defend him which will then open up passing and assist opportunities. But it all starts with threatening the defense. So, I would like to see him play downhill a bit more, looking to turn the corner out of the P&R, get into the post more, and be even more assertive in isolation. He worked on his game a great deal this summer, he’s more than capable.
Taking a step back to the big picture again, this may not seem like an important game for these Lakers but it is. They can go two games over .500 with a win and it would be their 3rd road win of the season. They only won five games on the road all of last year. I hope they are attentive and ready to compete from the opening whistle.
Where you can watch: 4:00pm start time on Spectrum Sportsnet.
It is hard to believe after last year that a game with the Pelicans would be interesting. But this season all of the Lakers’ games are turning into must see TV. I agree that the main “problem” in Russell’s game has been his lack of assertiveness and looking for his own shot. He has been playing well in spurts this season and still shows the ability to take over games as needed. His shot mechanics have been off and maybe that has more to do with him focusing more on passing. Russell is still getting quality minutes with the starting unit and his game will come around.
Tough back to back shaping up. Tonight in NOLA, tomorrow in Minnesota. Davis is the real deal. JR will have his hands full starting out, but if he and LNJr do a good job on AD, the Lakers have a good shot. Davis is not a traditional back to the basket big man. He likes to set up on the high post… free throw line extended and face the basket in a triple threat position. The Lakers need to be ready to send doubles as he attacks the basket. Good test for the younguns.
A Horse With No Name says
Another very good breakdown/analysis from Golden Throat @ lakersground: D’lo and his shooting. I quibble with his fault finding on D’lo left foot first delivery on many of his shots; only because there are and have been many shooters who successfully employed that delivery. This dude (GT) is doing some exceptional work.
Deng is providing little and nothing offensively. This looks like a game where the Lakers’ bench can do some work.
The Lakers depth is the real deal. Clarkson coming out draining jumpers.
After all the hand-wringing over Mozgov, Deng is the guy who has me worried right now. I know he’s better as a stretch 4 at this point in his career, but still…
Every game it’s the same. As soon as Deng and Russell go out they go from down to up. Deng at 30% Russell at 33%. Lou and Clarkson are far better guards and everyone far better SF. Deng is just terrible. $16 million?
Please do not be injured Anthony Davis. He might have hurt his back and is out of the game. Lakers need to take advantage.
These Pels look like D-League material without AD. Hope the kid is ok… really enjoy seeing him play.
Nice run by the Lakers when Davis was out, happy to see him back in the game.
I sincerely hope AD is ok. Those back injuries can have a effect on his future. We haven’t seen the best of him yet. Too bad he is wasting away on that pos team.
Welcome back Ko!! I see you found your wipping boys for this season lol. Glad to have you back really…
Brandon Ingram with two nice assists early in the 4th….love his court vision.
The Lakers keep improving BY THE DAY, i was hoping for month to month improvement and i would’ve been happy, this is just astonishing, i was kind of skeptical about Luke, don’t get me wrong he did an amazing job with the Dubs but we all know how stacked that team was. He is for real. His hiring has the impact of a max level top 5 free agent. How he has transformed this team is i don’t know, a team that isn’t that has a lot of pieces of last year team is just unbelievable im speechless.
Clarkson is murdering these guys
Brandon reminds me of Sam Perkins… sleepy eyes, unflappable demeanor. He does things only a real ball player can do.
There have been several sequences tonight where the Lakers’ ball movement was just gorgeous. They are really starting to run their offense well.
Joel_ Yeah, it looks like he finally found his 3pt shot. He was due to tick back up and tonight it happened.
4 mins. left.. this one is in the fridge. Nice team effort. The injury to Davis took NO out of sync, but the Lakers did the right thing and took advantage. Lou, JC, Mozzy, BI all played very well. In fact the only Laker who didn’t was Luol Deng. Don’t want to overreact, but he’s not doing much at all.
Lakers with another win. Deciding factor in the game was when Anthony Davis left the game when he hurt his back in 3rd quarter (he would return later in the quarter) and the Lakers went on a run and took control of the game. Another nice performance by the Lakers.
What was that about Dlo again? 23 points and 6 rebounds 9-16 from the field and 4 of 7 from 3, what was that again?
Road tacos are my favorite.
It was important but i don’t know how deciding it was, the Lakers were already in the lead. Might had altered the victory margin though…
Box score reveals The Show had 36!! assists. JR led the way with 8. DAR had 6. In addition they shot 16/30 from 3 and only committed 10 TO’s. Weak opponent and a bit of serendipity with the Davis injury, but the Lakers played well and did what they were supposed to do.
Impressive. Beating bad teams like an elite team.
Our guys are for real! They will just keep getting better and staying fresher than other teams as the season progresses. They are beginning to feel unflappable already. I think we finish 7-9th in the West.
If Deng is playing hurt or in funk it’s one thing, if this is him we got an expensive paper weight.
I know the team will improve tremendously, but im still cautiously optimistic. Still don’t think they make the playoffs. Too early to tell. Wish to God im wrong.
Last year the Lakers would had been toast on games like this.
Deng is struggling but he is still too good of a player for this funk to last forever. Is easy to demand for Ingram to start already, we couldn’t do worse right? but the team is playing too well to even think to mess with it. Deng will come around.
The were only slightly ahead when he was injured, no more than four points. The surge was when he got hurt and expanded when he came back gingerly.