Solid win

This was a pretty decent win. While we did give up 110 points, I’d love it if we held that number around a flat 100, honestly. Last year we gave up 111.5 and shedding 11.5 points off the board over the course of the year is very doable for this squad. In terms of defense we’re kind of ahead of the expected curve. What was most impressive about tonight was how we scored the ball over the course of the whole game.

Watching Russell and Lonzo go at it was like watching two polar opposites in terms of how they approach the game. It’s not like D’Angelo doesn’t try on defense, he certainly does, but you can see the effect that both Brook Lopez and Julius Randle are having on the defensive psyche of the team early on. They trust the rim protection and everyone is looking to rebound and start the break. While we showcased our defense without fouling against Detroit and it’s merry band of jump shooters, we kept giving the Nets a lifeline with free throws as they paraded to 38 throws from the stripe. We shot a very decent 27, but still work to be done on that end.

Kuzma shined bright but was out-shined by the big breakout game of his Laker career. Brook continued his Godzilla act from last night torching Brooklyn inside and out. Seeing him operate in the post was a thing of beauty, just kept working it into him in the paint and he kept finding ways to get it in the bucket. When he started canning threes it was awesome, a hopeful sign of things to come. Odd stat of the night: our starting front court hit all of the threes we made as a team. No guard or bench player made one.

But let’s get back to Kuzma. He opens up that starting five’s game and I think it’s going to be very difficult relegating him to the bench when Larry gets back. Only one game, sure, but I think we’ve all seen that Kuzma is pretty legit. Especially for a rookie. Plays decent D, rebounds well, can make plays with the ball, can shoot it from anywhere. He has a real smoothness when he attacks the basket you simply cannot teach. He’s likely an early favorite for rookie of the year and if he keeps this up in the starting line up he may start the All-Star convo Jeannie’s been desperately hoping for.

Nice to see Ennis come back with a decent game outside of an early bone-headed play he had he really found a groove in the second half with Lopez. Corey Brewer looked like his brain got left in Portland. Clarkson continued his season long solid play off the bench. By embracing their new, some would say lesser but I would say that they’re wrong, roles they have made this team a lot stronger. That second unit is built to defend and push pace and Luke isn’t over-playing them like he did last season. Loving our bench, again.

All in all, it was just nice to see the youngins making smart basketball plays as a team. Recognizing the egregious size-mismatches, working it into Lopez in the post to get him going and staying with him when he was hot (something they often went away from last season), but not over-going to the hot hand so that everyone felt left out. The defense has been so very nice to see, I hope they can play this hard on that end all season, or at least in the clear majority of the games we play. Great job, team.