5 Things I Liked

This one was hard to find five things given our 4th quarter showing. This was a very winnable game but it looked and felt like the team was looking ahead rather than playing in the moment. We’ll try and squeeze a fiver out, tho…

1) ZUBAC! aka Zublacca with another great game. 19 points, 4 blocks and only 4 rebounds. But he did a lot of work in the paint to free up the board for his team. Zubac is making a case to usurp some minutes when McGee and Chandler get healthy. This is an old classic from a Costa Mesa pop-punk band called Supernova (you have to imagine Zublacca for Chewbacca on your own) and this one’s for you, Zu. Go get it.

2) Lakers starters played pretty well as a unit…until the 4th. They certainly did better than our small ball line up which continues to get annihilated on defense. Luke left Kuzma on Gasol for too long, which is a nice of saying at all. Kuzma, for all the aspects of his game that he has improved and we’ll get into that one in a minute, cannot defend traditional centers in the NBA. He just can’t. Maybe a summer spent on defensive footwork will help but really it seems more like a matter of mentality. Josh Hart has decent footwork but he has the mentality part right on. Kuz at the 5? Just say no.

3) Kuzma the play maker is a great thing, though. Kuzma had some great passes where he chose not to take either a contested shot or a 3 and found teammates for easy buckets. 6 assists and the fact that he’s finding the open man, or even better helping to get the man open via his aggressive play, is a great thing for the Lakers. Other than his passing, though, Kyle had an off game and looked like he got a little banged up at one point in the first half. Hope the young gun can shake it off and be ready for Christmas Day.

4) Ingram doing his Ingram thing. One of two Lakers that managed to score 20 points, LeBron being the (semi-obvious other one). The thing is…it’s just not quite enough out of him. He and Kuzma both need to figure out how to be this good every night and push the variance needle higher. Make 20 points the normal, and hey look at that he just dropped 30. Some of that is his role, both Kyle and Brandon get to eat after LeBron but the flip side is that LeBron rewards aggression on offense just about every time. I can count on 1 hand the number of times James has missed a cutter and not at least made the pass.

5) Simply has to be the multitude of things that are irksome just about every game. For a team that bleeds out points from the free throw line, that turns it over like they do and is dealing with injuries like we are you just can’t turn in a completely flat effort from tip off to the final horn. At some point you need to assert yourself. Credit J.B. Bickerstaff for calling some well-placed time outs. Kuzma looked off after halftime, Ball had another no-show of a game (yeah, I know he 3 steals and 2 blocks and was the only other player besides Zubac with a + rating for the game, dude has to score to make that stuff matter. Maybe not a lot but he has to at least be a threat to do so.) and Luke didn’t make good adjustments to what the Grizzlies were doing. LeBron only shot 2 times in the first half although he ended up with a team-high 22. Just a real frrrrrrrrnt of a game.