The Lakers got their first win of the season with a dominant 95-86 performance over the Utah Jazz. Despite the offense going quiet at times, the Lakers’ suffocating defensive performance combined with LeBron’s dominant offensive night proved more than enough to power them to a win.
Without further adieu, let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly from tonight’s game.
The Good From the Lakers’ Win Over the Utah Jazz
LeBron came out and quieted the doubters with a monster performance against the Jazz. Putting together an insane 32 point, 10 rebound, seven assist performance to lead the offense, James was the driving force in helping the Lakers break through against the stout Jazz defense. Most importantly, James took excellent care of the basketball and had only one turnover on the evening. Especially as the team learns to play with one another, they’ll need to lean heavily on LeBron to help them overcome some of the inevitable growing pains. While it is asking a lot of a player entering his 17th season in the league, the Lakers are paying him $37 million this season for a reason.
The Laker Defense
The Lakers’ defense came to play tonight and put forth a stellar effort. Forcing 22 turnovers and limiting the Jazz to atrocious 39%/30% shooting splits, Avery Bradley and Danny Green led the point of attack and tortured Jazz point guard Mike Conley. Forcing him into an ugly 3 of 11 shooting night to go along with four turnovers, shutting down Conley forced the Jazz offense to turn into a predictable one-trick pony. While Donovan Mitchell did start heating up in the second half, it was too little too late.
Anthony Davis had a dominant performance patrolling the paint and picked up a game-high five blocks. Forcing the Jazz offense to settle outside the paint for a number of contested, low-percentage looks, Davis proved to be the anchor Bradley and Green needed to take gambles and create turnovers.
JaVale McGee & Dwight Howard’s Rebounding
While they didn’t see too much time on the court collectively after Frank Vogel decided to go small, JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard put forward a much better effort on the glass. Picking up four and seven rebounds respectively in only 31 combined minutes on the court, McGee and Howard helped control the flow of the game and grabbed an impressive seven combined offensive boards – allowing the Lakers to pick up a number of easy second-chance points.
Even though they combined for two points, they played their respective roles perfectly and were a big factor in helping set the tone for a physical and defensive night.
Troy Daniels was lights out for the night, going 5 of 9 from the field along with 4 of 8 shooting from deep. Daniels looked especially deadly when sharing the court with James. A deadly off-ball spot-up shooting threat, James’ ability to collapse defenses and create open looks seems to be a perfect complement to Daniels’ game.
Look for Daniels to slowly work his way into a more sizeable role over the course of the year so long as he can continue to knock down the heaps of open looks he is bound to get.
The Bad From the Lakers’ Win Over the Utah Jazz
Anthony Davis’ Jump Shot
Anthony Davis played an excellent game on both sides of the ball but that doesn’t excuse his jump shooting woes. After missing a few early mid-range fadeaways and a wide-open three-pointer, Davis became considerably more timid and passed up numerous open looks later in the game. While he did hit an accidental lob and a few jumpers later on, he was relatively ineffective from outside the paint. A big part of what makes Davis so dynamic is his ability to score from the mid-range and consistently knock down fadeaway jumpers over his defender.
It is undoubtedly nitpicking but the sooner Davis’ jump shot comes back, the sooner the Lakers’ offense can function at its full potential.
Laker Offense With LeBron Sitting
Troy Daniels helped alleviate a bit of the offensive woes while LeBron sat but outside of him, the Laker offense once again struggled as LeBron sat. The Jazz defense had a big deal with that as they are notoriously one of the league’s stingiest units but that doesn’t excuse the fact that the bench scored a combined nine points aside from Daniels.
The Lakers are desperate for the return of not only Kyle Kuzma but Rajon Rondo to the second unit. Kuzma’s multi-level scoring should help considerably while Rondo’s ability to set up good looks for his teammates should go well with a second unit filled with shooters.
The Ugly From the Lakers’ Win Over the Utah Jazz
At least he finally got one point on the board tonight, that said, Caldwell-Pope’s shooting woes from the field continued as he still has yet to make a field goal on the season. Brought in to be a three and d specialist, Caldwell-Pope has been relatively inconsistent during his Laker tenure but never to the point of his current struggles. Unable to knock down anything, Caldwell-Pope is likely to see his minutes trend downwards quickly unless he can start knocking down shots more consistently.