The Los Angeles Lakers are certainly going to be an exciting team to watch this season. The 75th season of the NBA officially kicked off a couple of days ago. The Lakers had the honor of being one of the opening night teams to begin the new year. The squared off against Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors. However, they came out on the losing end, and dropped their first game of the year by a score of 121-114. Obviously, with only a few returning players on the roster, there’s certainly going to be some growing pains. Especially, when a third all-star now has to be incorporated into the mix. It was definitely a frustrating loss, however it should only be taken with a grain of salt. Because the Lakers can only improve before they really start to establish themselves as championship favorites.
The dynamic duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis seems to have not missed a single beat. The two of them continue to remain completely in sync with one another. Despite James starting his 19th season in the league, he continues to play like he’s in year nine of his career. In 37 minutes of play, he put up 34 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 assists in the losing effort. He also shot the ball efficiently from both field goal and three point range. If he continues to play this phenomenally, then another regular season MVP and also championship is certainly possible. Davis also put up all-star like numbers as well. He too had a monstrous double-double of netting 33 points and 11 rebounds. He also pitched in two blocks as well.
While the bench players didn’t have the most exciting game, some of them were still able to contribute. The two main players that seemed to have had the biggest impact off the bench were Carmelo Anthony and Avery Bradley. Both of them were able to knock down a few key three pointers to keep the Lakers within striking distance. Bradley was the most surprising because the Lakers signed him only a couple of days ago, due to a couple of their bench players being injured. If he continues to highly contribute in his limited playing time, then Lakers might have no choice but to keep him around. Rajon Rondo also led the Lakers squad in assists with 5 off the bench. Their bench will continue to become deeper once Trevor Ariza, Kendrick Nunn, and Talen Horton-Tucker recover from their respective injuries.
Despite all of the good and also the exceptional defense on Curry, the league’s best three point shooter, the Lakers still lost. Their third star, Russell Westbrook, had a terrible first game. He only scored 8 points and shot 4-13 from the field. He was able to contribute 4 rebounds and 5 assists, but that’s nowhere near of his potential capability. It seems as though Westbrook is still trying to find his niche with James and Davis. Which is why they excelled, while he derailed the team. He also looked somewhat passive, and elected to pass first. Westbrook needs to play harder, and also smarter, if this Lakers team wants any chance of success. Head coach Frank Vogel said that Westbrook’s struggles was “on him” for not getting him more involved. So, look for a different scheme in the Lakers’ next game.
As previously stated, the Lakers had a great defensive scheme against Curry. Because, despite getting a triple double, he only shot 5-21 from field (2-8 from three point range). It’s definitely somewhat comical that the Lakers were still on the losing end, despite solid offensive and defensive production. Unfortunately, they let some of the Warriors’ bench players outshine them. Particularly, they allowed Damion Lee (15 points), Nemanja Bjelica (15 points), and Andre Iguodala (12 points) to give the Warriors life and claw back into the game. Because the Lakers actually had a comfortable lead at one point. But those guys, along with Jordan Poole (20 points), were able to help the Warriors regain the lead.
The Lakers will have a chance of redemption when they take on the Phoenix Suns tonight at 7 pm pt. The key for them is to somehow get Westbrook more involved, and make him more of an efficient player. Because he had a horrendous plus/minus of -23 in their last matchup. They also cannot allow themselves to get beat by a bunch of bench players. Especially when they worked so hard to keep the main starters at bay. The first game of the season usually means little to nothing in most instances, so they shouldn’t be bothered by it too much. Just game one of many for this title contending team.