Behind an excellent all-around night from LeBron James, the Lakers jumped on the Warriors early and never looked back, running up the score to the tune of a 120-94 win over the defending Western Conference Champions. Anthony Davis got the night off for the Lakers while Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry (among others) were unable to go once again for the Warriors.
The Warriors are notoriously banged up and as the top-seeded team in the West, anything other than a lopsided victory would have been viewed as a colossal failure for the Lakers. With that said, let’s get into the good, the bad, and the ugly from the evening.
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The Good From the Lakers Big Win Over the Warriors
On a night where the Lakers were without leading scorer Anthony Davis, they needed a big night from LeBron. The King more than delivered with a monster 23 point, six rebound, and 12 assist outing while only playing in the first three quarters. Needing to take more of an active role scoring with Davis out, James responded with an efficient 11-21 outing and routinely got to the basket at will for easy points.
While his three-point shooting left a bit to be desired, you can live with James’ 20% mark from deep when he attacks the basket as frequently as he did tonight. All in all, an excellent night from James who delivered EXACTLY what the doctor ordered for the Lakers tonight.
Actually Getting Out to a Lead in the First Quarter
Unlike seemingly every other game this season, the Lakers actually got out to a big lead to start the game against the Warriors. Outscoring Golden State 38-26 in the first frame, the Lakers were able to comfortably control the flow of the game without having to ever worry about fighting or clawing their way back into contention. While that is to be expected against a team as banged up as the Warriors, it was a nice change of pace considering the numerous sloppy starts the team has had so far this year.
The JaVale McGee/Dwight Howard Combined Super-Center
Despite getting Willie Cauley-Stein back, the Warriors big men are severely under-matched going up against the size, strength, and athleticism of JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard. Cauley-Stein is coming off an injury and has yet to truly look like the solid force he was developing into last year while names like Eric Paschall, Omari Spellman, and Marquese Chriss simply lack the necessary experience to hang with the Lakers’ duo.
Combined, Howard and McGee went for 33 points, 25 rebounds, five assists, three steals, and four blocks in an extremely efficient 47 minutes of play. The two big men have proven time and time again that when they get hot on both ends, they have the capability to help take over and control a game – exactly what happened tonight.
Once again, Caruso posted an exceptional night on the defensive end. However, this time around Caruso’s shot seemed to be falling a bit more and we got an idea of just how much of an impact he can have going two-ways. When Caruso is hitting from deep, defenses are forced to step out and defend him – opening up easy driving lanes to the hoop that the athletic guard is more than capable of taking advantage of. His presence alone helps space the floor and it was good seeing him knock down a few more shots to work through some of his early-season struggles.
He still seemed to defer a bit TOO frequently on offense at times and it should be fun to see if and when he potentially gets a green light similar to his run at the end of last season. Caruso would finish the game with eight points, six rebounds, three assists, and a steal.
The Bad From the Lakers Big Win Over the Warriors
Kyle Kuzma’s Turnovers
So there really weren’t many bad takeaways from an extremely well-rounded win and we have to nitpick a bit. Kyle Kuzma was mostly fantastic shooting the basketball tonight, though he did lead the team in turnovers – one of the few categories the Lakers lost as a team. Kuzma’s offensive exploits undoubtedly made up for his turnovers but his ability to hang onto the ball will become increasingly important against better teams.
For what it might be worth, James also had the same number of turnovers as Kuzma but gets a pass as he is still somewhat learning the nuances of playing point guard full time.
The Ugly From the Lakers Big Win Over the Warriors
When you win by 26, you avoid getting your excellent performance nitpicked any further.
The Lakers are back in action on Friday night against the Sacramento Kings with yet another home game at Staples Center.