The Lakers are clearly back to their winning ways after beating the Pelicans 123-113 on Friday night. The win was the Lakers 4th in a row, basically nixing their 4-game losing streak that directly preceded this stretch to bring the team back to 21 games over .500 for the season.
The game itself was not as gross as the Suns game, but it was approaching that. The Lakers truly controlled this game all the way through, leading by 12 after the 1st quarter and at the half. In the 3rd quarter the Lakers broke the game open, taking a 22 point lead into the 4th quarter. Then…well…things went sideways. Again. In that final period the Lakers were outscored 30-18, mostly because the bench units (more on
him them in a bit) couldn’t seem to tie their shoes correctly, much less play coherent basketball.
This led to LeBron and AD needing to play heavy minutes in the final frame to hold off a surging Pelicans to secure the win. What should have been a period for these guys to yuck it up on the bench and get some needed rest, turned into them needing to make key plays to ensure that a game that got as close as 7 didn’t actually find a way to be turned all the way on its head. Mission accomplished, I guess.
As frustrating as it was to watch this game go down the path it did, it was not so frustrating that I couldn’t enjoy the absolute clinic Anthony Davis put on offensively. AD scored 46 points on 15-21 shooting while making all 13 of his FT’s. He hit 3 of his 5 attempts from distance, grabbed 13 rebounds, snagged 3 steals, and got a block for good measure. He was…inevitable.
This was one of those nights where Davis had 30 points before you knew it and scored 40+ so effortlessly it honestly didn’t seem fair. He was utterly dominant, hitting from all over the floor on a variety of shots that made it feel like he was a 7-foot shooting guard. He caught lobs, posted up, hit step back J’s, and walked into 3 pointers. Again, it didn’t seem fair. If this is how he’s going to play every time he faces his former team, maybe the Lakers can play the Pelicans every game for the rest of the season.
If AD was the lead actor for this one, it was Danny Green who should win for best supporting role. Green scored 25 points of his own, hitting 9 of his 14 shots from the field including 6 of his 10 three-pointers. Five of those 3’s came in the 1st quarter, setting the Lakers up for victory early not only by producing points, but by putting the defense in the impossible position of needing to defend the entire court.
The undersized Pelicans simply did not have the personnel to guard AD and Bron in the paint, triggering help from the perimeter to try to deter them. Whenever that help came, LeBron picked out shooters and when the ball went to Green, he made them pay over and over again.
In the end, then, Davis and Green carried the load while LeBron (more on him soon, too) set everyone up to succeed with his typically (and especially lately) brilliant passing. The Pelicans, undersized and over reliant on their perimeter players to defend up positions, didn’t have enough. There’s no shame in that. Like I said earlier, they fought hard and came back and forced the Lakers to extend their stars into a part of the game they’ve have preferred not to.
How you feel about this game, then, likely depends on how much that last part matters in comparison to watching AD and Green go off. This game, I’ll acknowledge the former and happily take the latter. And now, some notes…
- The Lakers bench was dreadful this game and the most dreadful of them all was Rajon Rondo. While individual boxscore plus/minus isn’t always a reliable stat, it’s hard to ignore that in Rondo’s 15 minutes of game action he was a -19. Rondo’s job is to organize the team’s offense in order to help the team get good shots all while competing defensively. Rondo did neither and the units he was involved in suffered as a result. I’ll have more about Rondo later this week, so I’ll leave this alone for now.
- Tough game for KCP, who had been playing well before this game. KCP was 1-7 from the floor and simply couldn’t knock down any shots. He still competed defensively, though, but that’s the norm from him which is why I’m not super upset about the shooting. KCP not shooting it well only makes Green’s performance that much more important, so let’s give Green more props again just because.
- Kyle Kuzma hit 4 of his 10 shots, but went 2-4 from 3. I’ll take 40% shooting from the floor if he’s hitting half his 3’s on decent volume any night of the week.
- I hope Alex Caruso gets healthy and comes back soon. I don’t think the Lakers missed Caruso too much this game, but he helps whenever he’s on the floor and, honestly, if Rondo is going to be this bad, he can at least offer some secondary ball handling and offensive initiation skill.
That’s it for this one, folks. Have a good one.