Coming off a lackluster effort against the Mavericks, the Lakers faced off against the Sacramento Kings. The Lakers found themselves down big in the second quarter but were able to claw their way to an impressive 101-91 victory.
Sloppy turnovers and an overall lack of energy created a 19-point deficit in the first half. Fortunately, they came out of the locker room with more energy and played with more efficiency. As a result, the Lakers started to make their shots and force the Kings to miss theirs.
Larry Nance Jr. returned from a concussion injury and made his presence felt. Nance continues to be the unsung hero of the squad. He guards multiple positions, plays with energy, and makes smart decisions. At one point in the game, he blocked a shot and ran down the court and dunked the ball.
So far this year, opposing big men have crushed the Lakers. A big part of this is Walton’s decision to go small in the fourth quarter. In today’s game he opted to stick with center Timofey Mozgov in the fourth quarter. Cousins had 28 points but not many of his points came from the paint. Mozgov and the Lakers did a fantastic job of containing Cousins after the first quarter.
Luol Deng had another subpar performance. I am positive that Deng is a great locker room veteran, but the Lakers are paying him $72 million to perform well on the court as well. Deng has looked a step slow on defense all season and his shot continues to not fall. Deng will have to perform better in the future especially since many Lakers’ fans are now thinking about getting the eighth seed.
The Lakers churned out another victory and continue to turn heads. The Lakers have a chance to improve to 6-4, as they play the 1-8 New Orleans Pelicans next on Saturday.
The Lakers snapped their 3 game losing streak with a 123-116 win over the Atlanta Hawks. With a win over the previously undefeated Hawks, the Lakers improved to 2-3.
With Timofey Mozgov out with an eye contusion, Ivica Zubac got his first NBA start. Zubac scored the first 2 Laker baskets but struggled to contain Dwight Howard. Dominant big men seem to be a problem for this Lakers squad, as Howard had 31 points and 11 rebounds. Both Mozgov and Zubac are slow and get into foul trouble easily, while Tarik Black is undersized 6’9”.
Nonetheless, the Lakers led by D’Angelo Russell and Lou Williams were able to help the Lakers seal the win. Williams caught fire in the fourth quarter, where he scored 16 points. His instant offense is proving to be useful for late game situations.
Russell was particularly impressive. He has shown us before that he can score, but today he showcased his ability to get his teammates open shots and play good defense. Russell finished with 8 assists, 3 blocks, and a steal. He seem more committed to playing defense and looked more composed on the offensive end. He let the game come to him and did not force any bad shots.
Coach Walton went with a 10 man rotation today, opting to not play Calderon and Huertas. There are just not enough minutes to go around with Ingram playing the point as well as Lou, Russell, and Clarkson. Walton made the right choice in not putting either in, as both are defensive liabilities.
This Lakers team is definitely a different team than the one we saw last year. They play with more energy and seem to enjoy playing under Luke. The future is certainly bright for the Los Angeles Lakers.