Kevin- I tried my hand at writing a Lakers game recap from this Tuesday’s NBA kickoff! I intend to write one after each Lakeshow contest throughout the season, so stay tuned for memey NBA takes from a memey NBA fan.
Clippers at Lakers 12/23/20 G1
The Fast Break:
The joy of the Lakers’ ring night was slightly dampened after a season opening defeat to the Clippers, 116-109. Former 2019 third-place-MVP sore winner Paul George led the way for all scorers, dropping 33 points on a slew of difficult jump shots from all over the court. His shot looked like butter as he found space to shoot over smaller Laker wing defenders throughout the night. Lebron (22 pts) and Anthony Davis (18pts) had neutered evenings by their standards, Bron exited the game late with a turned ankle, but they found ways to contribute across the box score ( 5 Reb/5 Ast for LBJ and 7 Reb for AD). Lebron was definitely easing his way back into game shape, which is totally acceptable after a shortened off-season full of Sprite Cranberries, and AD started to get his signature mid-range game going late, although it wasn’t enough.
Newcomers Dennis Schröder (14/12/8) and Montrezl Harrell (17/10/3) both had big time debuts for the purple and gold, offering a glimpse of what their skills could provide this season. While the Lakers showed resilience coming back from a 20 point deficit entering the 2nd quarter, the late game consistency of Kawhi Leonard (26 pts) and Playoff P kept the completion of a comeback at bay.
-Holy shit Dennis Schröder is fast. He can get by literally anyone at anytime, dropping his shoulders low to the ground to gain an angle around the corner and finishing strong at the bucket. To say this man makes Rondo (why haven’t I ever seen Rondo and Franklin the Turtle in the same room?) look a little slow is an understatement, he adds the ability to explosively attack the basket that wasn’t found on the 2019-2020 Lakers outside of LBJ and AD. I’m excited to see Schröder increase his share of pick and roll opportunities with both Harrell and AD. He had a couple nifty pocket passes to rolling big men that inspires plenty of hope for even an ounce of additional playmaking when Bron is off the floor.
-Take a bow Montrezl Harrell! The former Clippers big man had an exciting showing against his ex-buddy o’pals, adding a lightning rod of energy that I was worried would be lost with the absence of Dwight Howard. I was wrong, Harrell is tenacious on the boards when he isn’t being boxed out, leaping over Zubac (😦) for the rebound and finishing strong over the top. Trez provides this kind of spark plug constantly, making plays all over the floor that simply exude the world “hustle.” I’m curious to see how his game will grow when catching the ball at the elbow and facing the basket. He seems to have a little bit of a jumper, but nothing conclusive enough to restrict my (admittedly rude) scoff everytime he shoots outside the key.
It wasn’t all roses though, it looked like Harrell was a bit outmatched by big Zu’s height whenever they were facing off 1 on 1 in the post. I’m assuming this will be a recurring trend throughout the season as Harrell will be forced to face many giants of the game. Harrell is undersized (listed at 6’8”), but can make up for it on both ends of the floor with superior effort and them long ass arms (listed at 7’4”!!).
-Did AD figure out how to pass out of a double team? One of my only gripes with AD’s game last season (there weren’t many, don’t be mad at me AD) was his lack of passing skill out of double teams, seemingly letting the pressure of multiple defenders force him into ill-advised decisions. Dude is a god at basketball, but will turn the ball over so casually in this singular situation…until now? AD had multiple examples of receiving the ball in the post, reading the defense to understand where an extra defender was coming from and making the correct pass to an open teammate. It was glorious!
This first clip showcases AD’s improved vision perfectly, notice how after receiving the ball, he faces up to survey the floor for any cutters or actions. The moment he sees Zubac leave Harrell to double team, AD whips a pass to Trez for the easy layup. This bang-bang read and react play is indicative of a player who is gaining confidence in these situations, which is incredibly exciting to see for AD (and my selfish desires for victory).
The next clip again highlights AD’s ability to quickly scan the floor for an incoming double team and swiftly make the correct pass to an open team-mate, this time to a cutting Bron for the thunderous jam. I get to watch one of the greats further round out his game, pinch me.
Last Second Time Out:
Look for the Lakers to continue to gel on and off the court. Kuzma had a nice scoring game (15 pts), but needs to contribute elsewhere for his true impact to be felt. If there’s one thing this current squad can do, it’s score, so Kuzma needs to continue his growth on the defensive end and attack the glass hard. Marc Gasol looked a bit rough, but I’m confident we will see him improve as he gets more minutes under his belt. On the defensive end, there were some drop coverages off screens that left me a bit woozy. Watching Harrell sink into the paint, leaving PG wide open after already draining a few, was a bit infuriating. Hopefully these adjustments to the scheme are made as the season goes on. Overall, an exciting intro to the 2020 season.
Dallas Mavericks (0-1) – Luka is a baaaad man, but I don’t think the Mavs will have the toughness inside to stop AD from feasting. Expect a big game from Alex Caruso, for no other reason than the meme power of JJ Barea being absent from the Mavs, allowing the bald eagle to soar.
Prediction: Lakers 114 – Mavs 105