Lakers vs. Mavericks G2 12/25/20
The Fast Break:
Like the moody mall Santa from A Christmas Story pushing Ralphie down the slide, the Lakers gave a powerful stomp of the ol’ boot to the Mavericks, rejecting any notion of Luka and Co. getting an NBA Christmas present victory (or Red Ryder BB Gun), 138-115. Anthony Davis was predictably dominant, dropping 28/8/5 on 10/16 shooting in 30 minutes played. He was in his bag all night, causing problems as a roll-man, hitting mid-range jump shots and even splashing 3 three-pointers! LeCoasting pitched in a casual near triple double on top of that (22/7/10), piling on to the point where he was semi fucking around trying to create highlights.
Luka had moments of brilliance interspersed with moments of rust, it seemed like he was just a little bit off tonight (finished with 27/4/7) while still maintaining his excellent statistics. I feel bad for him, the Mavs are a deep team with plenty of talented players (Josh Richardson impressed me after kinda stinking it up with the Sixrers), but they won’t be able to truly shine until Kristaps Porzingis is back on the court. While nowhere near as handsome as Boban Marjanovic, Porzingis’ ability to stretch the court and provide a true threat opposite of Luka is vital. Finally, the dynamic duo of Trez and Schroeder were both brilliant, bringing the firepower to the Lakers roster that will help preserve Lebron and Anthony Davis down the stretch of the season.
-Kyle Kuzma, the human embodiment of Gumby, had the kind of game I’d love to see out of him the rest of the season. I think Kuzma thrives as a high quality role player, reducing his shot volume to about 10 per game while hitting at a high clip. He definitely still loves a good heat-check three pointer (come on, who doesn’t?), but when he is able to consistently hit shots coming off even the most basic of actions, we are in business. When Kuz is locked in as a stat-stuffing energy guy, he had 13/6/2 tonight, he is flint to the Lakers kindling.
Defensively, I was left a bit underwhelmed tonight. Based on his size, Kuzma is often tasked with guarding some of the larger wings in the league, such as Luka, who would seem to be a solid matchup for him. While Kuz’s height definitely gives him something to fall back on, his happy feet are still a problem when guarding someone quick on-ball. Notice his lil tippy taps in this clip as he tries his heart out to stay in front of an accelerating Luka. Hopefully Kuz can find a spot on an upcoming season of Dancing With the Stars in order to develop proper foot sliding technique. All in all, a nice Kuzma game that I believe contributes to winning basketball.
-Montrezl shut my ass up about his broken jumper. He had multiple instances throughout the game, mainly when it was becoming a bit of a blowout, where he confidently faced a defender, jabbed and splashed a shot right in the defenders eye. I discounted his ability in the “skill” aspects of the game and assumed he was more of a power player, which isn’t necessarily incorrect, but his overall game is better than I imagined. In addition to being a threat with the ball in his hands, Trez was fierce on the offensive glass – pulling in 5 offensive rebounds in total. The more Montrezl is able to synthesize his own offense without the ball in his hands (rolling to the basket, snatching rebounds) the better off the team will be.
-The Laker’s passing and ball movement was sensational tonight, briefly showcasing what this team could look like down the road. Marc Gasol started it off with his first notable highlight of the season, quickly starting the break via a long outlet pass to KCP for the eventual Anthony Davis slam. When Gasol is able to push the ball up the court like that in a hurry it allows for fast-paced offense with minimal defensive resistance, leading to open buckets. If he could give me some of those over the head K-Love passes more often, I would die a happy death. In the half-court, the Lakers’ ball handlers were having their way with a porous Mavericks defense, expertly placing pocket-passes to rolling big men for aesthetically pleasing buckets. Schröeder was first to get in on the action, dropping a nifty pocket pass off to AD for the contested layup. Schröeder’s dynamism as a playmaker is really fun to watch, he is quickly becoming one of my favorite players to hone-in on while they’re playing. Bron and Trez also got in on the pocket pass action, shooting the gap past James Johnson for a well-worked bucket. Sharing is caring, and the Lakers cared plenty tonight.
The Lakers were simply the more talented team and there was no other way around it. The overall level of roster depth at hand is simply unmatched in the NBA outside of the Nets, to the point where guys like Wes Matthews who I assumed would fill a large role for us are being limited due to strength of other role players. While there’s still plenty of time for minutes to be won and lost, if you’re trying to get some PT on this roster you’re gonna have to show out. Doncic is an absolute pleasure to watch whenever he is on the court, so regardless of score this was gonna be worth the price of admission (free). Scope the perfect footwork on this pivot move past KCP for an easy bank off the glass, this shit looks like the old guy at pick-up basketball that maybe can’t get up like he used to, but is able to create space out of nowhere. While it wasn’t a Christmas miracle, the Lakers were able to convincingly come out on top versus a team they were definitely supposed to beat.
Minnesota Timberwolves (1-0) – DLo, the lost child of Los Angeles, gets a matchup with his former team to determine if we made the right decision in trading him. Anthony Edwards also gets the opportunity to showcase if he should be an NBA player, MLB player, or Broadway actor. Hopefully we found out.
Prediction: Lakers 122 – Twolves 109