The Lakers flew back to Los Angeles from China on Saturday only to play a preseason basketball game on Monday. That in an of itself sounds crazy. What sounds crazier to me, though, is that the Lakers not only won the game, beating the Warriors 104-98, but did so on the back of undrafted rookie Zach Norvell Jr.
Norvell, with his slick southpaw stylings, dropped 22 points on 13 FGA’s and 8 FTA’s. He knocked down 3 of his 8 attempts from behind the arc and mixed in a couple of nifty drives that left defenders grasping at air and touching the earth as he scooted past them. The entire display was just a joy to watch, so, here, watch the buckets for yourself. 1Shouts to friend of the site Grant Goldberg for putting these clips together.The kid can play.
Norvell, of course, didn’t do it on his own. Five other Lakers scored in double figures on the night, with every guy who set foot on the floor contributing in some way.
Demetrius Jackson came up with 5 huge points down the stretch to hold the Warriors off when they made a late charge. Devontae Cacok scored 16 points and snared 6 rebounds while showing good activity in the paint on both ends. David Stockton dished out 7 assists and went 2-4 from behind the arc. Even Jared Dudley who didn’t score a single point played really well on defense and moved the ball well on offense.
And then there was Dwight Howard, who scored 12 points on 2-4 shooting from the field and 8-10 shooting from the foul line, grabbed 13 rebounds, dished 6(!) assists, snagged 4 steals, and blocked a shot. Dwight was as active as his box score line implies and showed off a lot of the qualities — minus the freakish athleticism — that made him such a great player in his prime. Dwight certainly shows some of the wear and tear of playing a decade plus of big man in the NBA and the multiple surgeries required to do so — he’s more stiff in his knees and hips, his 2nd jump isn’t quite there anymore, and his diminished explosiveness can now only come after an exaggerated gather — but the understanding of where to be and how to be effective remains.
After the game Frank Vogel said that he was proud of how his team competed after such a taxing trip to China. I second that sentiment. It would have been easy for this team, down nearly all it’s key players, to come out and just go through the motions while chalking the entire thing up to jetlag. Instead, they came out and played hard on both ends, jumped out to a big lead, and then fought all the way to hold off a surging Warriors team in the final 5 minutes. These dudes did good.