5 Things I liked

Wow. Well that was certainly a home opener. In a game that was supposed to be all about LeBron James somehow it became about every other aspect of the Lakers as they currently stand. Mercurial vets we brought in after signing LeBron causing distractions? Check. Rondo and CP3’s bad blood was on full display and Lance played peace-maker, sure, but only after he did a masterful job of enticing Harden into a T. Ingram with that half court sprint into a cheap shot punch…that’s an unfortunate course for that young man to have embarked upon, cheap shots like that really have no place in anything. I was fine with the shove, he’d been the focus of their offensive attack in the first half and wasn’t getting the same love, as none of the Lakers did, from the whistle-bearers. But there’s no place for that kind of cheap shot. Hope he learns from it.

Anyhow…

1) Lonzo Ball. The only Laker to make more than one 3 pointer. With Rondo bound to be missing a game or 3 let the Ball era begin anew. Lonzo was 4-8 from 3 and is shooting them with confidence. He still gets lost on defense and where he needs to be off the ball on offense but with Rondo getting suspended he has a great opportunity early in the season to re-capture his starting role. Lead the team to a win tomorrow and it’ll go a long way towards making that a more legitimate choice.

2) JaVale Mcgee’s defense. Played 20 minutes again, altered a ton of shots, scored efficiently. While I question his repeated outside shooting his skills around the rim on both ends are top shelf. Keep it up, JV.

3) Rajon Rondo pre altercation. I don’t see Rondo spitting on Chris Paul in any replay I can find. That’s some bush league CP3 shyte and I hope the league suspends them equally. To that I expect Brandon to get suspended the most, cheap shots like he chose to throw are the kind of things the league loves to come down hard on. They could take into account his 3 seasons of generally stellar conduct…but we’ll see. But Rajon, pre-antics was rolling. Outside of a couple ill-advised full court passes (and he’s not the only one throwing those) he was killing it. Hitting smart shots, making great reads and playing decent D.

4) Identity points. 68 points in the paint, 22 fast break points. If we start hitting free throws and couple more three pointers per game we’ll be in great shape. As a team we only committed 11 turnovers, it was our sending Houston to the line the amount of times that we did (and missing our own). Our defense and passing acumen is leading us to easy scoring chances, we’re missing wide open threes and free throws. Need to clean those things up.

5) Lance Stephenson. No offense to Brandon Ingram, he’s my favorite young Laker although his latest escapade was dismaying, but Lance is playing better right now. Lance may not have the three point touch, but his defense is great and he can create his own shot. The only thing being that, if Ingram is suspended, we’ll need someone to score off the bench. At any rate, had the fracas not occurred I’d have been fine with the rotations as they were for a good 15-20 games. The fracas changes everything. Lance just might see himself in the starting line up and if he’s a part of our first Laker win it’ll make the conversation about who should start a legit one.

Ingram coming put of nowhere, and frankly even pushing James Harden, was a big surprise to me. I hope he hasn’t been holding his emotions in so tight he’s reaching a boiling point. Because, frankly, this isn’t even pressure yet. This the beginning of what will later become true pressure, when everything is at a literal boiling point and every second of your on-court life matters to a level that approaches the absurd. But it’s truth, and it’s the kind of truth that makes a person uncomfortable. Because the only thing it reveals is the current state of your character and strength of will. At this level your sill and ability is pretty much undeniable, you add to that through hard work. But the pressure attacks something different, something you can;t make stronger with weights or running a lot. It attacks your soul and your will.

All the young Lakers are struggling. Ball not so much mentally but getting back to his best, current, physical self. That’s what could end up setting Lonzo Ball apart from the other young bloods: his strength of spirit. That dude is as cool as a cucumber. We’ll see how this all shakes out soon enough. I expect the Lakers will be “short-handed” Monday night.