Surviving a late scare against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Lakers moved to 12-2 and continued their red-hot start to the season behind the stellar play of Anthony Davis. The first game in the extremely rare home and home back to back against Oklahoma City, the Lakers have a pair of travel days before the second leg in Oklahoma City on Friday.
Lakers vs. Thunder Result/Score
Lakers Win, 112-107
The Good From the Lakers Win Over the Thunder
Anthony Davis & the Return of his Three-Point Shot
After a pair of tough outings shooting the ball, it is very safe to say that Anthony Davis is indeed back. Finishing with 24 points, seven rebounds, four assists, four steals, and two blocks, Davis stuffed the stat sheet while leading the Lakers in scoring. While his offensive output was crucial to the win, Davis continued his excellent work on the defensive side of the ball. The centerpiece for a very solid team defensive performance, Davis and head coach Frank Vogel have helped redefine the culture of Laker basketball into a mean, defensive-minded squad.
His shot, which has been a major area of concern among fans, was dripping wet against the Thunder. Going 3-5 from deep while chipping in a number of silky mid-range buckets, Davis’ multi-dimensional offensive arsenal made him more or less unguardable. This is the Anthony Davis the Lakers traded their entire roster for and it should be interesting to see how frequently these types of performances occur with his latest injury seemingly in the rear-view mirror.
What Dwight Howard didn’t contribute in the scoring category, he contributed everywhere else. Serving as a durable big body capable of going toe to toe with the New Zealand monster Steven Adams on the boards, Dwight gave the Lakers some big minutes and played a large role in the team winning the rebound battle. Dwight once again finished with a positive net rating on the night and his infectious energy from the bench has continually proven to be one of the team’s most reliable weapons through the first month of the season.
Defensively, he has proven to be one of the Lakers’ most versatile weapons. Aside from his stellar rim protection, he looks not only competent but downright terrifying when forced to switch and guard smaller players out on the perimeter. Dwight finished the night with three points, six rebounds, two blocks, and a steal.
Ho-hum, just another casual triple-double from LeBron James. Though he had some trouble in the turnover department (as we’ll visit below) he was otherwise dominant once again. His natural passing vision and ability to create easy looks for his teammates is growing fitting in very nicely with his move to point guard. It is scary to think that James will only get better from here but it could be true. The Lakers are just 13 games into a season with a number of new faces still getting comfortable in their roles. Especially as he develops more chemistry with Anthony Davis, expect the triple-doubles to continue flowing.
James finished the night with 25 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, and 2 steals. This now marks the fifth game in a row where James has finished in double-digits assists and is his fifth triple-double of the season.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s Three-Pointer
I guess he’s back? KCP knocked down a MASSIVE three-pointer late in the fourth quarter after the Laker lead was cut down to only two points. Despite his struggles to start the season, Caldwell-Pope has recently given the Lakers a string of very solid offensive nights.
KCP might not be all the way back but he’s sure getting close. Especially if he keeps knocking down big open looks late, Caldwell-Pope could find himself earning back the hearts and minds of Laker nation sooner rather than later.
The Bad From the Lakers Win Over the Thunder
The Lakers’ bench was thoroughly outscored by the Thunder’s unit. While the bench mob didn’t necessarily play bad, Kuzma leaving early had a big impact on the sheer offensive output of the squad and hopefully, the eye injury doesn’t turn into a lingering issue that holds him out for an extended period of time. The bench played well enough to essentially tread water and against the Thunder, which was more than enough to get the job done. That said, they’ll need Kuzma’s scoring against teams with deeper bench units – namely the Clippers.
LeBron James’ Turnovers
LeBron had an excellent night overall, however, he struggled mightily in the turnover department – leading the Lakers with seven. the Thunder were able to pick up a number of easy transition looks that kept them close throughout the game despite an extremely efficient night that saw the Lakers finish with 48%/45% shooting splits.
James has had some big games (like tonight) in his new role as point guard but there will still be a few bumps along the way. He is dealing with learning the nuances of playing a slightly different position compared to his previous 16 seasons and those growing pains are inevitable. Once again, James overall had a VERY solid night otherwise so consider this a more one-off rather than a cause for concern.
The Ugly From the Lakers Win Over the Thunder
The Lakers have now won five games in a row and led from wire to wire against the Thunder (even though it got close late). Nobody had a “bad” game and there isn’t any reason to nitpick what was yet another rock-solid performance from the Lakers. Instead of talking about what they did wrong, they get a pass and you get to take a look at some sweet highlights from the night: