Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum combined for 57 points as the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 108-96 in Portland on Saturday night. The Lakers have now dropped six straight and are 2-13 on the season.
Here were the main takeaways from the game:
It’s Good To Be Young: It was a great performance for the Lakers’ young players. D’Angelo Russell had 16 points, five rebounds, five assists, and shot 6-11 from the field, Julius Randle had 16 points, six rebounds, four assists, three steals and went 8-13 from the field, while Jordan Clarkson went 8-15 from the field and had 19 points, three rebounds, four assists, and four steals.
It was one of those games that gave us a glimpse of what the future may hold for the Lakers. Randle was craftily scoring in the paint and even hit a few mid-range jumpers. Russell was effectively getting to his spots and hitting shots when he got to those spots, and Clarkson was knifing through the paint all game. Both guards hit two threes as well.
Unfortunately, only one other Laker scored in double figures, and it was Kobe who scored 21 points on 7-20 shooting and the defense is still dreadful so thus, the double-digit loss. Still, seeing the young core develop is what’s most important this season and this game was encouraging in that regard.
Byron is still Byron: Oh, where to begin? Brandon Bass is still playing center and the defense suffers because of it, Kobe played 34 minutes, and the offense still features things like Bass-Metta World Peace handoffs, isos early in the shot clock, and the Lakers’ big men holding the ball at the top of the key for 10 seconds.
Not only is it frustrating because those things don’t work, but also because they don’t stick with what does work. The Lakers will have possessions where they simply run a Clarkson or Russell high pick-and-roll and it ends in a good look, yet, they won’t go back to it. That should be the staple of the Lakers’ offense, but no, let’s let Metta World Peace try to create off the dribble instead. That sounds like a great plan!
Kobe has no conscious: Was it surprising to see Kobe start the game 2-7 from the field in the first few minutes of the game? Nope. Was it surprising that he kept shooting and ended up shooting 7-20? Not at all. It’s time to accept — if you haven’t already — that no matter what Kobe says, he’s just not going to change. He’s going to call for the ball, he’s going to stop the ball, and he’s going to brick over 60% of his shots. This is as likely as Byron crossing his arms for 48 minutes.
I did get a kick out of Russell and Kobe arguing on one possession. Kobe wanted the ball in the post and Russell wanted him to set a pick. The rookie did not get his way.
Floundering Bass: When the Lakers signed Brandon Bass this offseason, it was assumed he’d be a guy that would give the team solid minutes off the bench by rebounding and scoring 6-10 points. He has not done that this season. His mid-range game – his perceived strength – has been non-existent, and other than the occasion offensive rebound, he doesn’t do much else well. Now, it’s likely that a lot of his struggles – especially defensively – are the result of Bass playing center. During the broadcast it was mentioned that Bass has played ZERO minutes with Roy Hibbert this season. That is insane.
Bass is not a center or a rim-protector in any fashion, yet is being asked to play in that role regardless. Spoiler: neither the team nor the player is benefitting from that, and this is obviously on Byron Scott. He should be putting players in the right position to succeed, not the opposite. If Scott wants to use Larry Nance Jr. at the four, which I’m more than fine with, how about trotting someone else alongside him? Maybe that Tarik Black guy? Byron, once again, sticks with what doesn’t work.
The Lakers will return home to Staples Center tomorrow to take on the Indiana Pacers. Tip off is at 6:30 PT.