5 Things I Liked

KidCore comes through huge! All 5 of our young lions formed Voltron with all our drafted players playing big roles in the win over OKC!

1) Kyle Kuzma as the Black Lion. At the center of everything was Kyle Kuzma. 32 points (on only 20 shots), 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. Yeah he got his customary offensive foul called on him but he adjusted his attack afterwards and slithered around paint defenders. That three point stroke we’d all been pining for showed with a little ‘howdy-doo!’ and forced OKC to scramble to contain him on the perimeter which he used to drive into the lane for some of his pet runners. While he wasn’t the only hero he certainly was the one doing the most damage on the scoreboard.

2) Ivicia Zubac as the Yellow Lion. Putting the team on his back in the 2nd quarter when we were down big Ivicia was both instrumental in bringing us back from 17 down and helping us hold on for the win. This season has seen two of the best games Zu has ever played in his life and they’ve both shown us a true diamond in the rough. As always, and as it goes with all of our young players, consistency is the key word that comes to mind. Zubac posted a career high in points (26 on 14 shots along with going 3-4 from the stripe to help the team to a very welcome 19-21) but he also led the team in rebounds with 12. But my favorite stat of the night from Ivicia was his one assist to Brandon Ingram for a game sealing dunk. He made a GREAT read on that play and you could see how pumped he was going down the court afterwards. Game ball to Zu.

3) Josh Hart as the Blue Lion. Josh returned to his hyper efficient self and was the second best rebounder with 10. 50% (or better) from every shooting perspective, 5 assists, 3 steals and a block to go against 1 turnover. Nice to see the Hart of old return to the fold. While I don’t think this performance heralds a return to the starting line up, if anything it really cements my opinion that he’s better off the bench this season, he was in the game during the 4th and OT which is what should really matter to a player, anyhow.

4) Lonzo Ball as the Red Lion. With his speed and quickness and best of all his aggressiveness all game long Lonzo Ball has looked like a player more worthy of his draft selection over the last week or so. Again, consistency is the goal, but to set the bar where he’s set it lately has been a welcome sight. Lonzo hit a ridiculously deep three pointer to push the lead as the Thunder were going on their final run, he found teammates for buckets to the tune of 10 assists and best of all he didn’t let missed shots affect anything he did on the court. While his recent spate of increased aggression has not come with efficient shooting I don’t really care. The pressure he creates is the key to unlocking our offense and to that point he has, lately, shown a lot of consistency. The shots will fall but he has to take them.

5) Brandon Ingram as the Green Lion. If you’re not into Voltron than this post might be a bit of a head-scratcher but it’s worthy bit of televiosn to invest some time in as it exemplifies good teamwork, persistence and doing the right thing as key aspects of heroism. The Green Lion and it’s pilot are the least powerful, in appearance, but the most thoughtful. Brandon Ingram had a terrible night from the field with his only basket being a wide open dunk created by OKC over-containing Zubac in the paint. He will quickly turn the page on his 1-9 effort and hopefully be comforted by his team-leading 9and career high) 11 assists. He also hit all 6 of his free throws which is a huge thing for him, lately. BI sees the game at a different level than Ball does. Lonzo sees where a teammate is going to be before he gets there and can often hit him in strife. Ingram sees the game as it unfolds around him but with the length and skill to still make solid reads. This manifests in his defense, scoring and passing. The shots aren’t going to fall every night but the key to success at this level is to not let that discourage you from impacting the game in other ways and Ingram did a great job of that.

All in all I have to ultimately disagree with the TNT halftime guys who categorized this as a terrible home loss for OKC as opposed to a terrific road win for the Lakers. The Lakers took this game, OKC was slow to react to our bench storming back, missed key shots and free throws and generally made enough small mistakes to leave the door open a crack. But this was a dog fight from halftime on. the kind of dog fight superior talent, which OKC cetainly had last night, usually wins. it takes discipline, teamwork and rugged determination for a team like ours to pull this win out against a team like the Thunder…on the road…in overtime. So hats off and congratualtions to Luke and the staff for finding the right mix of players to compete hard after that terrible 1st quarter. Back pats and high fives to every player who played and someone get Michael beasley the right shorts for crying out loud!