The Lakers reminded everyone of who and what they are. They are a very young team that makes mistakes and will have a lot of turnovers. They are also a very inconsistent team that will have its hot starts and not so hot finishes or cold starts and hot finishes. Above all, this team showed their fight and unwillingness to give up.
It was a really tough game for them. Demarcus Cousins showed why he is arguably the best center in the league by showing his range and post polish. Yet the Lakers were still able to come back thanks to their bench remaining one of the best in the league and Julius continuing to prove his doubters wrong.
This game had all of the imprints of a bad game with all of the sloppiness that was going on. Yet the Lakers stayed in it to make things interesting until the last minute.
Nick Young continues to play out of his mind by shooting great from 3 and playing defense at a rate nobody has expected. Lou is still showing effort on defense and is looking like a different player from last year that is playmaking and shooting at a good rate while sneaking in a couple of foul drawing moves. Julius is finishing amazingly and creating for others. Heck, even D’Angelo is finally finding a grove on the scoring end.
Which brings me to my final point before the film breakdown. It was really frustrating to watch the whole 4th quarter without a sign of D’Angelo Russell to be seen. I know how fun winning is. It is a good feeling and the Lakers can finally say they are above .500 record wise. Luke has made a lot of promising changes, but Lou Williams and Nick Young shouldn’t be closing out games over Russell. His development means more than a win. He may have had 5 turnovers, but he is still the best guard on the team and, like he showed against the Suns, he can make plays at the end of games.
Okay, I really need to get to this film breakdown before Boogie gets all up in my face.
Nick Young has had quite the basketball revolution. He has not only gotten over what happened last year, but he has also taken huge steps as a player on both defense and offense. He is shooting so well and defending with effort. Here he shows his willingness to play in the system as he drives and the defense reacts to him. He then dishes it off to Moz for the slam. Young doesn’t have a reputation as a passer so these moments are not to be taken lightly.
Julius has also taken steps as a playmaker as he actually looks for players on the perimeter. Here, he does that thing where he runs really fast and right as the defense collapses on him, he passes it out. It is a small thing, but they really show the evolution in his game to be patient.
The Lakers played really physical and that frustrated Cousins at times. As big as Moz may be, Boogie is a completely different animal. He is super strong and super huge. They were just hacking him here and kept fighting until they eventually got possession of the ball. The whole “run through a wall for our coach” mentality seems to be true.
The Lakers sure do like to run this play off of a timeout. Here Nance and Randle free up Clarkson and then they free up Russell for the 3. It makes sense to have your best shooter run through screens. Great way to get him an easy look to warm him up.
Ingram has noticeably struggled against both length and strength this year so going at WCS isn’t exactly ideal for the wing right? Well that’s not the whole story. Here Ingram misses the scoop shot and continues the play to get the easy put back. His offense isn’t exactly all there, but his motor on both ends of the court is impressive.
Ingram the playmaker has been a surprise to many, but not me. He is a pretty good one and this was a skill that wasn’t talked about last year in college, but he could run a mean pick and roll. Being on the bench gives him one of the best roll guys in Tarik Black. Here he shows his ability to make a defense react to him as he is about to be trapped, but he gets out of it. He has some pretty good playmaking instincts for a small forward.
Julius continues to finish well and that allows his whole game to improve. He doesn’t have many moves in the post. He practically has one strategy: bully the player until he gets close enough to shoot it over them. Here he really takes advantage of the smaller man to get a good shot.
Randle shows his IQ by telling D’Angelo to keep posting up Lawson, so Randle gets the ball and dumps it to D’Lo. D’Angelo does the rest with some footwork and he uses his size to rise up and drain the pull up jumper. These players are finally starting to get to know each other.
With the good you can take the bad. Randle is really good at recognizing a mismatch, so he posts up the player and scores with his left. I really wanted him to kick it out to D’Angelo for the open 3. It looked like a really good look and Mozgov even set a down screen to keep him open. Not a big deal, but Randle might have left a point on the floor here.
Boogie vs. Randle. Randle wins. His strength is really put on display here as he is able to muscle his way and finish by whatever means necessary. This was the beginning of Randle vs. Cousins.
More Russell post isolations. He really did a good job of taking advantage of the smaller guard. With that midrange stroke and size, good luck stopping him in the future NBA.
Russell’s handle wasn’t as sharp as it was during the Golden State game and that led to 5 turnovers on his part. It also led to him sitting in the 4th. This was also a lucky swipe from Cousins so we can’t expect this to always happen, but it needs to be sharp all the time if he splits the screen that way since he isn’t as explosive as other guards.
Even with his turnovers, Russell had a good 3rd quarter that would spark a run to bring the Lakers back into striking distance. He does the Rondo ball fake and puts up the shot after he gets hit and it goes in. No celebration for Russell who knows he has struggled with his turnovers.
Nick Young had that look like there was more swag to come from him. He got some daylight and that was enough for him to rise and stroke in a 3. It’s good to see him have fun because a happy Nick Young is a good player.
Here is the defense from Young that I was talking about. He didn’t fully bite on the shot fake and was able to stay on the go around and slide his feet. It led to the player he was gaurding to kick the ball out since Young was all over him. This is quite the transformation and it puts him in the prime spot for Most Improved (or Most Hated).
Nick Young is a fun player when he is having fun. His celebrations are all contagious and it makes the team player harder. He is a great shot maker when he shows effort. This is a truly amazing GIF.
MORE RUSSELL ISOLATIONS BABY!
Oh, hi Larry. Long time no see. Nance and a defensive highlight just go together so here they are. Nance forces a turnover and passes it to Black while on the floor. Black then kicks it to Clarkson and he drains the 3. This is practically the game in general. A bunch of sloppy plays and the Lakers just made a few more.
Black being active on the boards. Death. Taxes. All of these are givens and are certain to happen.
Randle vs. Cousins round 2. Randle is such a badass as he simply smiles and walks away from the scuffle between him and Cousins.
Randle does a really good job of pushing and here he doesn’t miss the perimeter guy. He gives it to Nick Young and gives a little drag screen to free him up and, well, this was a night full of swag. The shooter’s bounce was only fitting.
I really hope this rivalry continues throughout the years. This was a cool moment and it provided plenty of meme potential. Also some good Twitter headers and avatars. It was not the perfect game, but it was exciting at times.