D’Angelo Russell’s ankle injury is the only sore spot in an otherwise exciting night.
Outside of one pesky ankle injury, that couldn’t have gone any smoother.
Even despite 38-year-old LeBron James suddenly playing with the efficiency of 38-year-old Kobe Bryant, your new-look Los Angeles Lakers absolutely obliterated the visiting Golden State Warriors at Crypto.com Arena tonight in a 124-111 blowout that was actually much more lopsided than the final score suggests.
No Lakers starter played more minutes than LeBron James’s 26:19 in a game that was all but over by the end of its third quarter, which the Lakers led 95-80 following a 36-24 period.
LA was expected to win, given that Golden State was missing its best scorer, Stephen Curry, and its starting small forward, Andrew Wiggins, plus a key reserve brought back to shore up its terrible bench defense, Gary Payton II.
The Lakers took 19 fewer triples than the Warriors (49-30), but actually made two more than Golden State (16-14). LA totally dominated Golden State in points scored off turnovers (19-10), fast-break points (29-8), and of course bench points (68-52). The Lakers also mightily out-rebounded the undersized Dubs 69-54 and dished out a whopping 30 dimes to the Warriors’ 24.
Beasley finished with a game-high 25 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the floor (7-of-11 from deep) in 25:56, along with three rebounds, an assist and three steals. He was a team-high +26 in his minutes on the floor. It sure helps to have a volume three-point shooter help space the floor around LeBron James and Anthony Davis, doesn’t it?
D’Angelo Russell departed the game during the first half, after playing a hair under nine minutes, after badly rolling his ankle. Dennis Schröder capably stepped up in his absence, scoring 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the floor and 4-of-4 shooting from the charity stripe, plus dishing out six assists.
Eight Lakers finished with double digit scoring, including five bench players. Lonnie Walker IV’s 10 points were recorded with the game already in hand, but the play of Schroder, Rui Hachimura (14 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the floor), Mo Bamba (10 points on 2-of-5 shooting, including 2-of-4 from three-point land), Austin Reaves (17 points on 6-of-6 shooting) all mostly transpired in meaningful minutes.
LA’s hyper-efficient three-point shooting (53.3%) and conversion rate from the floor (48.8%), plus a robust free-throw rate (34 foul shot attempts to the Warriors’ 21), are testament to how much of a difference shooters can make for this team. James (5-of-20 shooting) and Anthony Davis (3-of-5 shooting) drew plenty of gravity as usual, but often as offensive decoys for a diverse array of jump-shooting Lakers.
To be fair, the win lifts LA to a 28-32 record. The team still has plenty of ground to cover, but the fact that the Lakers’ depth looked so much more capable of, you know, knocking down a jumper made a world of difference tonight, and bodes well for the future, too.
The Lakers are still just the 13th seed in the West, but are now just 1.5 games behind the 10th seed… the 29-30 Warriors!