The Lakers have won two straight games, and regardless of competition level, there’s a lot to be happy about. The team is playing harder and some of the fun has returned too. Of course, everything is more fun when you win, but the general spirit of the team is better. Maybe it’s because Lonzo is back or maybe it’s guys becoming more happy with their roles. Or maybe it’s nothing and I’m imagining the entire thing.
The results, though, are promising.
What’s also promising is that the Lakers have started to do some nifty things on offense in these games. A couple of these plays were highlighted in our Data Report from the Hawks game and, similarly, the Lakers had more actions like these against the Kings on Tuesday.
One, in particular, stood out to me for it’s creativity and how Luke Walton was able to play to the strengths of one of their key players. This is actually the first play of the game, so Walton clearly drilled this play and had it all queued up to get a shot he wanted.
The action starts with Lonzo passing to Ingram and then executing a curl cut around a Randle screen to come right back to the ball. After the ball goes back to Lonzo, the meat of the action takes place. First, Ingram executes an “Iverson” cut off a Lopez screen to come across the floor. As Ingram crosses the court at the top of the floor, KCP (on the opposite low block) sprints across the paint right as Lopez walks down the lane line and Randle shifts from his spot in the shallow corner up the lane line.
Right as KCP makes his way across the paint, Lopez and Randle close the “elevator” doors to pick off KCP’s man to free him up for an open shot. Lonzo delivers the ball on time and on target and the result is a wide open shot, which KCP buries. 3-0 Lakers.
There’s few things I like about this play, but a key one is the disguising that is inherent in the set up. The Lakers have run variations of this action to get the ball to Ingram up high to let him work off an initial screen and then attack when his defender is trailing the play.
Building off that, I like how there are different options which could be run off this particular alignment. Besides running a more stock play for Ingram, the Lakers could also have Lopez screen for Lonzo, have KCP and Randle drift to their respective corners (or even have Randle screen for KCP as Lopez did to occupy defenders), and turn this action into a high P&R action for Lonzo/Lopez.
Lastly, I’m happy to see Luke break out an elevators action again. Last season, Walton ran variations of this play several times for both Nick Young and D’Angelo Russell to some success. He’s not really done so this year, likely because he doesn’t have the same caliber of shooter on the roster this year. But, he went to it vs. the Kings and it worked wonderfully.
Here’s to Luke breaking out even more of the playbook in the coming weeks just as he has in the last couple of games.