On Thursday night 7/30, the Lakers beat the Clippers 103-101 in the first game back for both of them since the suspension of the league in March.
Even though this is the first game back, we can definitively make some observations of what happened in Orlando.
What are some positive and negative things that the Lakers can take from the win against the Clippers?
1) The Bench Steps up to the Occasion
Kyle Kuzma, Dion Waiters, and Alex Caruso played good basketball and stepped up for the Lakers bench, which has been a concern coming into the bubble. Kuzma had 16 points and 7 rebounds while shooting 50% from the field.
Dion Waiters struggled from three but was perfect from inside the arc. Also, Waiters brought something that the Lakers lacked, which was a shot creator. Caruso did what Caruso does best, make winning plays. These contributions were very much needed, as every point counted in the game.
2) The Lakers Won Even With Lebron Not Having a Good Night
LeBron James didn’t have his best night, especially offensively. But that wasn’t an impediment for the Lakers to take the win. Throughout the season the narrative has been that the team is too LeBron dependent, but Thursday night showed that that isn’t the case. LeBron shot 32% from the field, but he did show up when the team needed him the most, and that was enough. He made the game-winning shot and locked up both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in the final possession of the game, and showed why he is still the difference even in an off night.
3) Anthony Davis First Three Quarters
He was unstoppable. Scoring 32 points in just three quarters is impressive, and also a message than the Clippers don’t have an answer for him. Davis helped the Lakers come back in the third quarter after the team went down double digits.
He also managed to get to the free-throw line 17 times in the game, making 16. That’s a really important alternative when you aren’t on your best shooting night.
1) Anthony Davis Four-Quarter Problem
In the four games against the Clippers, Anthony Davis has a total of 10 points in the last quarter. That is not good, especially after playing as he did on Thursday night. Davis only shot one field goal and missed, while making two free throws.
If the Lakers want to get better Frank Vogel needs to find a way to involve Davis more at the end of the game.
The team needs to be conscious that this is just the first game back and that a potential Conference Finals against the Clippers will probably look a lot different. This is still a great win that puts the team a step closer to clinch the first seed in the western conference.
Featured Image: NBA.com