The Lakers stopped their five-game skid as they trampled the Indiana Pacers, 108-96. It’s too bad that it came with a price.
D’Angelo Russell was lost for the game after he sprained his MCL on his right knee. He also has a calf strain to add to those pains. D’Angelo will have an MRI tomorrow. We also received a scare from Nick Young as he hyperextended his knee but he ended up returning to the game.
In the meantime, the game wasn’t exactly pretty as the game was mired with turnovers. The Lakers had 23 while the Pacers had 20. What the Lakers had the edge on, though, was hustle as they outboarded the seemingly-disinterested Pacer team, 51-37.
We saw a litany of missed transition hoops and dunks throughout the game. But the Lakers went on two separate surges in the second half that broke them away from Indy. They went on a 12-0 run in the third to give themselves a double-digit lead then L.A. countered with eight straight points after a Pacers bucket to start the fourth. The Lakers outscored the Pacers, 35-22, in the third as Indy stumbled their way in that period with seven turnovers.
Lou Williams led the Lakers in scoring with 27 big points; the Pacers simply couldn’t stop him. Julius Randle broke out of his offensive slump with 16 points. Brandon Ingram looked smooth as he sank three shots from behind the arc on his way to 15. Nick Young also had 15 despite being slowed by the knee. Jordan Clarkson was chaotic in the game with 7 turnovers but he did get 12 points and 5 steals. And Tarik Black contributed greatly with 8 points and 13 rebounds. We’ll forgive Timofey Mozgov for missing like 20 dunks but, at least, he grabbed a ton of boards (11), set some mean picks, and did his job inside the paint.
In the first half, the Lakers couldn’t stop Al Jefferson, who scored all 20 of his points in the first half. But the Pacers never really got it going in the second half. Paul George did end up with 21 points but Ingram essentially played him to a draw as George got some of his buckets late. Myles Turner scored 15 points but he had a hard time stopping Tarik Black. Jeff Teague had six turnovers and Thaddeus Young was mostly invisible. If anything, Sue Storm would be envious on how invisible the Pacers were in the second half of that game.
The Lakers are one win short of matching their season total from last season and we’re only in January so the team has that going. L.A. will play the Mavericks next on a Sunday matinee in Dallas. Hopefully, they can continue to build momentum there. If you still have postseason hopes, they’re four games behind the 8th seed Nuggets. Hey, if the Sixers can suddenly go on a surge, why not the Lakers?
Let’s all wish D’Angelo a speedy recovery. Let’s hope his injuries aren’t too serious.
Watching the game tonight, I was struck with a sense that if the Lakers can count on at least two starters delivering night after night, they’ll be interesting. Tonight it was Randle and Ingram, with Young hitting several big shots. Ingram and Randle were also very active on defense.
The game was a bit ugly but the Lakers showed up in the second half… The energy, especially on defense, looked good for the team which has shown signs of fatigue late in games. I think the 2 days off between games really helped. The next three weeks before the all star break will be tough, but I hope the team can push through and get a couple more wins. The schedule after the break gets a bit easier, so I’m hoping the team can get healthy and get back to the high level they were playing at over the first 20 games.
_ Robert _ says
All wins are nice wins.
However – Russell with another injury (this is not good at this age). And anything associated with ligaments is not minor. Young also got nicked (no pun intended).
Ingram and Randle – yes good, but the team was basically led by the Williams/Young offensive tandem. These two are like machines. When u need a shot to go up, they function flawlessly like a pitching machine in baseball – you just feed the ball in and let the machine take over. In the Williams/Young case if they are cold – you lose – if they are hot – you have a chance to win.
Ingram is the biggest positive recently and he is by far my fav amongst the youngsters.
Hey Rey, nice write up. You got your wish and saw Lakers flying around on defense and I got my wish with Randle staying close to his man on defense. And at least 2 of the missed dunks by Mosgov were spectacular fails. I liked the physical play around the basket at both ends by the Lakers’ bigs. It set the tone for the game and helped slow down the fast breaks.
A few interesting things to compare between the two Indiana games this season:
Lakers scored the same number of points.
Lakers’ bench killed Pacers bench (+24 last night, +28 in Indiana).
Lakers’ shared the ball better (24 assists on 34 baskets tonight, 14 assists on 40 baskets at Indy).
Lakers found a guy who could guard Paul George and not give him dunks and free throws.
Ingram’s improvement over the last three months almost perfectly coincides with the difference in the two games: +15 on offense, while containing George, who scored 9 less points.
I think it’s a testament to Ingram’s basketball IQ and defensive abilities (and Walton’s coaching) that he has been on the floor so much as a rookie, and especially how often he has been there in crunch time.
Picking up on a comment from the previous thread regarding D’Lo, my concern with him (besides his knee now) has been his mental toughness. Can he stay focused and battle through difficult times during a game and a season? He’s still young, but given my, admittedly limited, viewing of his games I don’t get a strong sense of that in the same way I get from Tarik or LNJ. Doesn’t mean that he won’t be a very good player, but maybe not the player you go to carry a team during a rough patch in a game or a season.
That being said, without the gift of hindsight, I don’t know whom else I would have taken with the #2 pick in that draft. I still wouldn’t have taken Okafor because of how the game is changing. It’s easy now to say Porzingis, but at the time while he seemed intriguing, it sounded like he was too raw. Some people were pushing hard for Mudiay but at least stats-wise it seems a wash. Booker is having a really good year, but I didn’t see many “experts” ranking him that high.
Well, I don’t know what DLo does during practice and the offseason so maybe he does have it and I just haven’t noticed it during the games. More importantly, hope his knee is better!
bluehill Do you really expect a 19 year old to take charge of a premier NBA franchise and run the offense? That is what is being asked of Russell. This is a time when he is still trying to figure out who he is and what he wants. All things considered, he is doing fine and focusing on basketball. How many times has been picked up drunk or pulled over for reckless driving? In terms of talent, he has solid passing skills and a Curry efficient stroke on his shot. Even the great Magic did not arrive in the NBA with an outside shot. Give Russell a couple of years and he will be a premier scorer. Lastly, the decision was between Russell and Porzingis. The scouts (including Ryan West) liked Porzingis enough to have him brought in for a special workout. That was undermined when the FO decided to test how tough Porzingis was without telling him ahead of time. He did not hold up well against Madsen and that sealed the deal for Russell. Russell remains the best PG prospect the Lakers have had since Magic but it will take lots of patience to allow him to grow into the role.
new rr says
Russell was a good pick. Mudiay is not as athletic as advertised and, as advertised, he can’t shoot. I realized the former once I actually saw him against NBA competition. Okafor will have a career, maybe a good one, but he will need to be traded out of Philly and is not athletic enough to be an elite two-way big, which is why I supported taking Russell over him.
As to Porzingis, I had not seen any video on him on draft day and it is not as if people were freaking out that the Lakers didn’t take him. I have pushed back against the idea, only pushed by a very few people, that taking Russell was some wow, bold move. It wasn’t and the draft day reaction reflects that. Taking Porzingis would have been a very bold move.
Russell is actually playing well overall for a 20-year-old PG, but the injuries are mildly concerning and his limitations seem clear.
As to last night’s game, I like that Ingram and Randle played well, and I would like Walton to play him with Russell and Clarkson together more. A win is a win, but for me personally, any win that comes with “Lou Williams lead the Lakers with 27 points” is not what I am looking for with a 16-31 team. YMMV.
new rr says
I have covered this already, but Curry shot .437 from 3 and .885 at the line as a 21-year-old rookie on a 26-56 team, and is probably the greatest shooter ever. The hope is that Russell will get his numbers up to, say, .390 and .800.
I saw the Porzingis/Madsen anecdote at SSR, and it was basically a typical sophomoric SSR post attempting to say for the zillionth time how dumb Byron Scott is. If it is actually true, and if your interpretation of it is actually accurate, (which I doubt) that is a huge indictment of how the Lakers are being run.
What does YMMV mean ? Tried looking it up without success. Thanks.
new rr says
Your Mileage May Vary–meaning I am not arguing this position strongly, it is just an off-the-cuff sensibilities-driven opinion, and many may disagree.
Ok thanks… learn something new every day.
Apparently, from Mitch Kupchak’s point of view, things are ok. The following quote is attributed to him over at LakersNation….
“When I look at the future of the group, I’m incredibly ecstatic. First of all Luke Walton has done a great job. I love the way he coaches, I love the way he plays, I love his energy, how he sees the game, and I love our core going forward.”
Interesting on many levels. Is Mitch being forthright or is he laying down a smokescreen to obscure the imminent, self imposed deadline of Jim Buss?
new rr bluehill FredP rr you stated it better than I. I agree Russell was a good pick. Porzingis would have been a bold pick. NY fans in the room hated that pick when it was announced.
Russell is a good player now and will become better. Agree we need to patient and give him time to grow and improve. The same with the other young guys. That said, we have some more data now and I have some concerns about his mental toughness and effort, but I haven’t watched every game so maybe it’s unfounded, and even if somewhat accurate, doesn’t mean he can’t make some corrections going forward.
As for leading a premier franchise, I do expect him to lead this team, which is basically a college all-star team with a couple of 4 year seniors. It’s not like rookie B Scott joining the Lakers. This team is young and needs someone to emerge as the leader. So far, Randle seems to be the one trying to take on that role.
As for the franchise, the Lakers have a storied history, but the franchise is kind of mess right now, mostly, in my view, because of the discord within ownership.
Agree. He’s young, has skills, and besides his physical weaknesses which I believe can be overcome with training,.. I wonder if ‘competitive spirit’ and ‘fire’ can be taught.
Though, maybe he’s been holding back, or maybe his was of learning is to keep it low key, taking one small bite at a time,.. heck, I don’t know.
I do, however wish and hope that he reaches his full potential,..which for me would mean he would become a star. If not that, at least an all star and key part to our team.
I’m however a bit concerned that the front office may be losing interest in him due to his inconsistency and inability to bring if not skill, at least effort every night.
I would hate to see him traded and he ends up becoming the player some of us saw before the draft and during flashes over the past 1 1/2 years.
Interesting take, could be a smoke screen, as Kupchak has a penchant for secrecy and surprises.
Could even mean a change in personnel, which I hope is not the case.
What you say could be true as well… that Mitch is trying to generate interest in some of the young core as possible pieces in a trade. The behind the scenes stuff with the Lakers keeps us all guessing!
new rr FredP bluehill Get over Curry’s stats. He is unique and not available. However, Russell’s shooting motion does not have a hitch, he gathers and shoots. Just like Curry. He has excellent range and his release is effortless. His shooting percentage will improve with practice. My source for the Porzingis story was Kevin Ding who I trust since he has covered the Lakers for several years. I was wrong in that Ryan West liked Russell’s potential. The FO thought that Porzingis would not be effective unless he could play the low post. That is why they Madsen push him around. NY seems to have figured out an alternative way for him to play.
Tommy Lasorda said it best about Kenny Landreaux. The kid had no heart.
new rr says
FredP new rr bluehill
You are exactly right…Curry is unique. And that is why bringing him up as a Russell comp is silly.
As to Porzingis, if what you say is true, that just draws a line under the point I was making about the FO.
Clay Bertrand says
Yeah I was thinking the same thing regarding the long rest (2 days). The Dog days will be here soon enough on the GRAMMY TRIP…….ugh…
INJURY UPDATE: Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell out 1-2 weeks with MCL sprain, calf strain (ESPN). http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/18521826/los-angeles-lakers-dangelo-russell-suffers-mild-mcl-sprain
Clay Bertrand says
Apparently, he also has another familiar ailment. We are a week away from Chinese New Year. It’s SUPPOSED to be the Year of the Rooster………..But clearly, its the YEAR OF THE BONE BRUISE!
Byron saw talent in DLo but doubted his heart because of his inconsistency. We know see what Byron saw and why he sat him. Being a point guard his difficult, especially when you are really an off guard, which DLo is. Give him a break, he’s 20.
Pet Peeve: STOP TALKING about sending Swaggy or Lou anywhere. They win most of our games for us. They shoot us in or out of almost every game. We need them. Veteran presence, fun factor part of entertainment. They actually may be the third best shooting tadem in the league.
I love the progress that Brandon has made!!! The kid is really special.
new rr says
Russell is actually 20, and will be 21 on Feb. 23.
Clay Bertrand says
I agree w you on Ingram. He is really blossoming and his humble nature is gonna make him a silent assassin type one day. He seems to have good mental toughness. I also would say that I DO understand now what Byron was seeing in DLo as an immature player. Let’s see if he can sort of GET UP OFF THE MAT and seize his role with more confidence and focus the second half of the season.
Regarding your PET PEEVE though………
If all you want is to win a handful of games with players that are not part of our team future at all just so that you can be slightly more entertained THIS SEASON by the “third best shooting tandem in the league” on a 24 win team, then IMO, you are short sighted as to the long term development and success of the team GOING FORWARD.
Do you NOT understand that if we LOSE our pick this year, we lose 2 FIRST ROUNDERS!!!!????!!?!?!?!?!?!?!??? If we keep our pick this year we add to our talent base and get to keep our 2019 pick as well.
“STOP TALKING about sending Swaggy or Lou anywhere. They win most of our games for us.”
Dude, I ain’t a math guy, but we have 16 wins. SIXTEEN and 31 losses……So this amazing shooting tandem has delivered 8-12 wins to a rebuilding team that is going to miss the playoffs anyway and your pet peeve is that people talk of trading our most marketable role guys!!??
Please read the following article. If you are still of the opinion that you would rather be slightly more entertained to the tune of the team finishing with the 6th pick AND LOSING IT along with the pick in 2019 instead of perhaps landing the 3rd this year and keeping the 2019 pick, then you sir, are probably pretty good at Checkers. ; )