A week ago, it was D’Angelo Russell putting on a show against the Cavs and scoring a career high to carry the Lakers (though, it came in a losing effort). Friday against the Timberwolves it was his backcourt partner’s turn. Jordan Clarkson poured in a career high in points (35) and made three pointers (8), in a fantastic shooting performance which propelled his team to a win. Watching him knock down shot after shot really was a sight:
A new career-high 35 for @Lakers guard @JClark5on! #LakeShow pic.twitter.com/M95qrYtYqH
— NBA (@NBA) March 25, 2017
Clarkson really was on fire and it showed a different way he can start to get going than what he has most of the season. Typically a downhill player who loves to turn the corner and get into paint for floaters and layups, Clarkson defied his 33% connect rate on threes for the year by nailing 8-10 from distance. He shot with confidence and when the defense started to adjust he then went back to his dribble-drive attack based game to counter.
JC wasn’t the only one to have it going, though. The Lakers shot 52.3% from the field overall, hit 14-23 from behind the arc, and posted a 116.8 offensive rating. The ‘Wolves aren’t the best defense, but they were a top 15 team heading into the Lakers game and did give the Lakers problems throughout the night with ball pressure and by clogging passing/hand-off lanes which are keys to how the team wants to attack. The Lakers, though, found a way:
HIGHLIGHTS: Lakers come from behind to beat the Timberwolves in overtime, 130-119. #LakersWin pic.twitter.com/m8eFgrT5fz
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) March 25, 2017
Beyond the offensive success the Lakers found, the key to me was how the Lakers were able to hold down Minnesota’s O in the 2nd half and overtime. After surrendering a 40 point 2nd quarter, the Lakers held the ‘Wolves to 52 points the rest of the game. Minnesota only shot 41.5% in the 2nd half to surrender their 13 point lead and allow OT, then only hit 33% of their shots in the extra frame while being outscored by 11.
That 24 point turnaround over the game’s final 29 minutes had a lot to do with what the Lakers were doing on both ends, though I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out how confused I was by the Wolves’ penchant for avoiding Towns for long stretches while letting Kris Dunn and Ricky Rubio take jumpers. By the time they started to involve Towns, he settled for 3-point attempts and had his only interior shot blocked by Julius Randle.
I know there is a large portion of fans who will be upset that the Lakers won, especially when the Suns lost their 7th straight game on the same night. The combo of an LA win and a Phoenix loss means the Lakers only hold a half-game “lead” for the 2nd worst record and the teams are now tied in the loss column. We all know the lottery protections on the Lakers’ pick and how important it is to keep this pick, so shifts in those odds are like shifts in the San Andreas fault line for fans. I get this completely. Even though if the Lakers “fall” to 3rd it is still pretty much a coin-flip for them to keep their pick, it’s not lost on me that it’s still better to have increased odds at retaining the pick — even if it’s “only” a 9% difference in odds.
However, as I noted last night, seeing how happy the team was after getting a win after losing 6 straight games isn’t lost on me either. It’s good for them to be rewarded for the work they’re putting in. It’s good for them to see that when they play well, stick to the game plan, and don’t quit they can experience team success. As fans who are removed from the work and preparation time these guys put in, it’s easier for us to look at lottery odds and bemoan wins as counterproductive. But, for the players and coaches, they need to know that work can actually pay off.
They are a good group of young players and they will win games against other young groups simply because they are better. And that sucks bc I’m on the tank train but I’m pretty much settled on 3rd place when Phoenix is so bad Booker had 70 and they still lost.
A few notes: Jordan Clarkson played the entire 2nd half (including OT) without a break. Overall he played 47:14. Other outstanding contributors were Julius Randle (23 pts., 12 rebounds in 34:18), David Nwaba (10 pts. and 7 rebounds in 26:12), and Larry Nance, Jr. (13 pts., 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1 steal in 34:53).
The Lakers allowed 67 points in the first half but only 42 in the 3rd and 4th quarters. The 2nd unit of Nance, Corey Brewer (who had a very strong game), David Nwaba, Tyler Ennis, and Clarkson probably turned the game around with their defensive intensity.
The 26 assists for the team (despite the 20 TOs) was one of their better performances in terms of moving the ball. Also, the Lakers seemed very active in terms of setting screens and freeing up their shooters (14-23 from distance for 60.9% 3-point shooting and 52.3% overall).
All in all, a good win.
Clarkson, Randle & the rest of the guys really stepped up in crunch time. This team will be solid in another year or two. Big win for the Big Diesel. Kudos to Brewer for the Shaq-like slam.
I agree that a 9% difference in odds is not nothing, but some people act as if finishing with the 2nd worst record means we get to keep the pick while finishing 3rd means we’ll lose it (there are even some sports writers who spin it like that). And this is clearly wrong.
If the final standings this season would determine our odds for the next 100 drafts, we’d have a decent chance of keeping our pick about 9 more times with the higher odds. According to probability theory, with every new event (draft) the variance of the distribution would get lower relative to the total number of possible outcomes. That’s why a significant number of events could give us a good amount of confidence.
Unfortunately, with only one draft anything can happen (and is about equally likely to). Right now, it seems there are 4 realistic possibilities left:
– we finish with the 2nd worst record and lose the pick,
– we finish with the 2nd worst record and keep the pick,
– we finish with the 3rd worst record and lose the pick.
– we finish with the 3rd worst record and keep the pick.
Regardless of the actual outcome, the sample size is one event. It’s impossible to say what would have happened if the odds had been different. Trying to do that would be the same thing as relying on Thomas Robinson to score 16 points in 10 minutes.
Again, better odds are not nothing, but as Darius has essentially pointed out, they are by far not the only positive outcome that we can (or should) look for.
When I try to gauge my own emotions, I’m under the impression that a lot of the hopes that are connected with those extra 9% have something to do with control. Objectively, whether or not the Lakers get to keep the pick is completely out of my or anyone’s control. That’s how it is. And quite frankly that sucks. But the extra 9% can kind of serve as a psychological crutch that can make us pretend that it’s still possible to control the situation, even though we objectively can’t.
Having 2ND seat is better than 3rd..in all aspects it’s stupid from writer to think it’d only the 9% difference..it’s getting the second best player or 3rd best.. it’s not even close..no more wining please
Darius Soriano says
You have a reading comprehension problem. You may want to get some help with that.
Not only that but the draft is so stacked one one more name off the board doesn’t really matter.
Ws are what Lakers play for or leaving it all out in the court. It is our culture.
So, just ENJOY the young guns and celebrate when they try their best to get a W…I know I do!
Rick in Seattle says
These last couple of wins are not going to be well remembered–particularly if the team falls to the 3rd seed, and the ping pong balls dont roll their way. There’s a lot at stake here. Dont blow this opportunity!
Looks like Blake Griffin & Paul Millsap are the top-2 rated power forwards in upcoming free agency. Although Millsap plays better defense, his age is a concern.
Finding a trade where Deng and/or Mozgov can be included clearly has to rank high on the Lakers front office to-do list.
Doesnt it look like the team is still showcasing Clarkson and Randle just a bit? Maybe I’m off-base, but seems like there could be the makings of a trade:
Clarkson, Randle & pick(s) for either George or Cousins!
Now that the Lakers have gone all in on the youth movement, I am more interested in seeing them play well. In addition, I would like to see how well the coaching staff can teach defense and can they actually get the players to stop standing around on offense?
I’m hopeful that the Lakers can hold a position in the lottery, but thrilled by the victory against Minnesota. I wouldn’t mind if we dropped to third–if we could exhibit that competitive spirit–but not win so many games that we lost our first round choice altogether.
We might need that first round draft pick to trade.
Yes, I’m thinking trade plus free agency–and speculating on which teams might be motivated trading partners. In the West, I’ve got to think Minnesota, Sacramento, and New Orleans. In the East, the most interesting is Indiana, but we shouldn’t forget Detroit, Nets, or Chicago. If we successfully poach a free agent, it could be from other teams, and other trades may be necessary to rebalance the roster.
These are interesting times.