The Lakers played the Warriors again on Wednesday night, this time beating their northern California rivals 126-93. The game was exactly as close as the final score indicates. The Lakers bludgeoned the Warriors with their size for the 3rd time this preseason, grabbing offensive rebounds on 30% of their missed shots and scoring in the paint at will.
When the Lakers weren’t dominating the paint, they were burying shots from behind the arc at a rate that seemed almost comical (unless you’re a Warriors fan). The Lakers hit half their 30 shots from distance, many of them wide open because the Warriors defense…well….it stinks. Or, it stunk on Wednesday night. The Lakers threw pass after pass to open three point shooters and time and time again the shot just went in. That’s what happens when you’re open, I suppose.
One of those open 3’s came courtesy of Danny Green on a pass delivered by LeBron James. This pass wasn’t just any LeBron dime, though. It was easily one of the best passes of recent memory and, frankly, one of the better ones I’ve seen. Honestly, this pass doesn’t make sense:
I mean, how? Seriously, here’s another look at it, this time from a bunch of different angles because, honestly, each time you see it from a slightly different vantage point, it grows in stature:
LeBron’s pass may have been the highlight of the night, but in a blowout win there’s always lots of good that happened. So, here’s a few bullet points that stood out to me from a really fun game to watch:
- Quinn Cook played in his first game of the preseason and was really, really good. He shot extremely well — 6 for 9 overall, 4-5 from behind the arc — but also flashed some playmaking chops in the P&R that I did not think he had in him. He got into the teeth of the defense on several occasions and showed a knack for making good pass/shoot decisions and choosing the right angles to deliver the ball to his teammates. Cook also did not embarrass himself on defense, showing good effort and hustle to get around screens and stay in front of his man. It was only one game, but Cook’s performance was better than any Lakers point guard has had this preseason — and by a fair amount.
- Avery Bradley found his shot in this game. 18 points on 7-9 shooting and a mirror image of Cook’s behind the arc prowess (4-5). We know this won’t be a frequent occurrence for Bradley, but when he does hit shots, this Lakers team will be very hard to beat.
- With those types of performances offensively from two of the team’s point guards, the Lakers did not miss Rajon Rondo (DNP-Rest) in the slightest. Yes, there were times where the offense was not as organized as I’d like and watching Bradley try to initiate a set from the backcourt didn’t inspire confidence he can do that more than a few times a night. That said, when you get more reliable shooting and good defense from the point guard spot in a game that Rondo sat out, there’s a strong yearning for more of what you just saw rather than what was happening in the team’s first 3 preseason games where Rondo played a prominent role.
- Anthony Davis didn’t shoot the ball well on jumpers (again) and only scored 8 points. His legs didn’t look all the way there to me; there were times where he just looked heavier on his feet than he typically does. He did, however, grab 10 rebounds and dish 8(!) assists. Davis has not been known as an above average passing big man before coming to LA, but he’s shown some real skill and awareness on that front this preseason. He’s picking out cutters and doing so off the dribble and after executing spins and when being swarmed by an extra defender. Davis also brought his usual presence defensively, which is always great to see.
- Are you rooting for Dwight Howard yet, Lakers fans? Another really good night from Dwight — 13 points, 7 rebounds, defensive activity, rim running in transition, and just workman effort all over the floor. There’s been nothing this preseason that even sniffs a sense of bad attitude or entitlement from him, which I think was some fans biggest worries when he was signed. Who knows how things go over the course of a full season, but, man, I’ve really liked what I’ve seen from him through 5 games.
- Danny Green’s help defense is fantastic. There’s so many times he’s just exactly where he needs to be to help close down a driving lane or wall off a passing angle or reach in on a drive to blow up an action or force a turnover. His shooting has been up and down this preseason. His on ball defense has been good, but not great. But his help defense? THAT has been really, really good.
- 12 points on 6-8 shooting, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block, + 23 in the boxscore. That was JaVale McGee’s night. He looks under control on both ends and playing next to Davis allows him to effectively challenge shots without being exposed on the defensive glass. I’m REALLY happy with how he’s playing and when you combine his efforts with Dwight’s, the Lakers center tandem (along with Davis) is looking quite formidable.
That’s it for this game, folks. The Lakers close the preseason on Friday with…another game against the Warriors. Have a good one, ya’ll.