5 Things

Well that was a bummer. What was a very winnable game proved to be beyond the team to get up for, especially in the first half. The Lakers almost made heroes of some oft-maligned player and the player under the biggest microscope of all, lately, turned in a real dud. Also, for what it’s worth, the Lakers became the last NBA team to lose to a sub .500 team this season.

1) Congrats to Markelle Fultz on coming through his early NBA woes and making an impact. Philly is probably watching Fultz these days thinking ‘we could use a little of that mojo right now’ and Fultz is a big reason why the Magic are in playoff contention right now. The dude has come through a lot and deserves some props for staying the course, believing in himself and not getting discouraged when things didn’t work out or resolve favorably in a timely fashion. Congrats on that triple-double.

2) The up and down impact of Kyle Kuzma. Stats have always been interesting to me. It paints such a small picture that becomes a lot clearer when they’re blown up and delved into deeper. The variance in Kuzma’s stats is his largest issue as opposed to what the stats actually amount to. Some of that is his minutes have diminished (still down roughly 9 fewer minutes/game) as have his FG attempts (roughly 4 fewer/game). His 3 point FG% is actually up from last season (34.2% vs 30.3%) but his two point FG% is in the toilet (49.8% for a guys his size with skill and arsenal of shots is pretty, pretty, pretty terrible). I’m not sure if there’s a solution for this with Davis on the team. It’s the same way that Ingram got marginalized last season trying to find his way alongside LeBron. With Davis insisting on manning the 4 (and there are a lot of positive reasons why he should) it will forever be hard for Kuzma to have the role he so obviously desires and fans want him to ascend to. But, if one is honest, he has yet to earn that role and the best way to do that is to force the issue on your coach by playing somewhat consistently every night. That has, to put it mildly, proved very elusive for Kuz.

3) Average LeBron. This is my biggest issue with the team. When LeBron plays like a mere mortal who is good at basketball as opposed to basketball Balrog that we’ve become accustomed to seeing this season we’re a fairly easy team to beat. Last night we saw average LeBron getting blown by on defense by Aaron Gordon and Markelle Fultz. This won’t happen every game but it is a major concern come the playoffs when you know coaches will happily allow the rest of the Lakers to beat them over 7 games. The Lakers need someone other than LeBron (and frankly Rondo) to be a release valve for the offense. It’s hard to ask that of a big man because you need to get them the ball in a favorable position for them to execute efficiently. For all the up and down that Kuz has gone through with his game it’s this issue that still looms the largest and may force the Lakers to consider trading him.

4) Great game by JaVale McGee. I feel like we’ve played McGee pretty perfectly this season. When he got sick last season it was the beginning of the end of that Laker team and this season he’s been steady throughout. Howard was a monster on the glass but JaVale was perfect from the floor (7 for 7) and had 3 blocks to go along with a sweet Statue of Liberty dunk. His biggest issue was late when he made two mis-reads on defense. Dwight is a little quicker and more decisive but I still have a lot of faith in JaVight McHoward.

5) Caruso’s knock to the noggin. Losing Alex so early was a tough blow and our defense wasn’t able to make up for his loss. Troy Daniels, Quinn Cook and KCP all played their hearts out trying to bring us back but none of them can replicate the toughness and tenacity on defense Caruso brings. Having said that, his concussion protocol results came up inconclusive and here’s hoping he’s OK today. It really was nice seeing the whole bench guard corp. step up big time, though.

Up next the Grammy trip with 5 big road games away from STAPLES. Traditionally a tough one this will actually only be our second longest roadie of the season (already came through the longest one). Good luck fellers. Go Lakers!!!