Was Monday’s win over the Utah Jazz the wake-up call that the Los Angeles Lakers needed?
Is it still showtime with no audience? Since the NBA restart, the LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers are 2-1 and clinched the best record in the Western Conference with a Monday night win over Utah. Despite the decent record, life in the bubble has been a wake-up call.
In the first game, LeBron James came alive late and sealed the win with a put-back layup off of his own miss and a great defensive stop against Paul George.
However, the short-handed clippers were missing both Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrel who account for nearly 40 PPG for the best bench in basketball. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George handily outplayed James scoring 28 and 30 respectively. LeBron finished with just 16 points.
Anthony Davis got off to a hot start scoring the ball, but most of his offense has come off of stellar free-throw shooting. In the matchup with the Clippers, he shot just 8-19 but finished with 34 points.
The second game against Toronto was even worse for the dynamic duo. Late game heroics weren’t needed as Kyle Lowry and the Raptors easily defeated the lakers 107-92. Anthony Davis finished with just 14 points and 6 rebounds on a passive 2-7 shooting from the field. LeBron James added a sub-par 20 points on 7-15 shooting in the 15 point loss.
Saturday’s loss saw the Lakers fail to crack 100 points for only the seventh time this season. The 92 points were their third-worst offensive outing of the year.
Despite inconsistent play from the stars, the Lakers’ role players haven’t been much help either. Potential x-factor Danny Green went just 2-6 in the first game against the Clippers before going 0-7 against Toronto. The underrated Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was just 4-15 from the field before Monday’s game.
The Los Angeles Lakers superstars were sluggish as well
Going into Monday’s game vs. Utah, Both LeBron and Davis were shooting an ice-cold 38 percent from the field. Danny Green and Caldwell-Pope were even worse at 15 and 27 percent respectively. Although never a big offensive threat, JaVale McGee’s scoring average has also dropped off in the bubble.
On Monday night against Utah, Anthony Davis came out with a sense of urgency. To combat a slow start from his teammates, Davis dropped an impressive 23 points in the first half. His relentless attack proved contagious as the Lakers heated up and finished off the Jazz 116-108.
Davis stayed hot and led the way with the Lakers with 42 points, 12 rebounds, and four assists. LeBron James quietly neared triple-double status with 22 points 8 rebounds and 9 assists.
Most importantly, Davis attempted 28 shots from the field and LeBron shot over 50 percent for the first time in the bubble era.
The stars’ improved play inspired the rest of the team as well. Although still struggling behind the arc, Danny Green was able to get into the teeth of the defense and connect on some shots in the paint. He finished with eight points on 4-8 shooting. Dwight Howard led the way for the bench with 10 points of his own. Kyle Kuzma added 9 on 3-6 shooting.
Despite home-court advantage being virtually obsolete these days, the Lakers have to be thrilled that the pressure is off and they can use the rest of the condensed season to continue to find their rhythm and finalize their guard rotation.