The Los Angeles Lakers brought a three-game winning streak to their match-up with the defending champion Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night. Coincidentally, the Lakers no longer have a winning streak.
As expected, the game was a one-sided affair with the Warriors coming out on top 109-88, a score that does not effectively showcase just how bad it was for the Lakers, who at no point held a lead. The Lakers fell to 8-28. Yeah.
The team did have some early successes in the first quarter, especially at getting to the line. Jordan Clarkson, Lou Williams, and Larry Nance, Jr. all started the game well to keep it close for about half of a quarter. Alas, multiple defensive breakdowns as well as Klay Thompson’s enduring love of killing his father’s former team led to the Warriors pulling away early.
For the Lakers, there were not many positives. With both Kobe Bryant (sore shoulder) and D’Angelo Russell (sore throat) sitting out the game, the bulk of the scoring and playmaking role fell on Jordan Clarkson. Clarkson had a decent game, scoring 23 points (by far more than any other Laker) on 8-20 shooting but exhibited some of the tunnel-vision qualities that have haunted him most of this season, as evidenced by his two assists.
Larry Nance, Jr. however continued his great run, playing well especially in the first quarter. The rookie scored 9 points and grabbed 7 rebounds in only 20 minutes of play. The high-fly act also put together a few highlight plays to give Lakers fans a slight and false glimmer of hope at one point. Another one of the young Lakers, Julius Randle, struggled with his shot, getting only one basket in eight attempts, but continued his great rebounding season by grabbing nine rebounds in his 20 minutes. Yes, he only played 20 minutes.
Anthony Brown, who once again started for Kobe, had an up and down game. He had some very solid defensive possessions on the likes of Thompson (though often it did not matter due to the latter’s en fuego status) but continued to struggle with his shot, only hitting one of six attempts.
Roy Hibbert was bad. Lou Williams hit 10 free throws and nothing else. Nick Young was bad (and booed). Brandon Bass was solid. Metta World Peace and Marcelo Huertas were Metta World Peace and Marcelo Huertas.
As a result of the blowout status of the game, however, we did get a glimpse of Tarik Black. I understand his name is foreign to most of you as we have all tried to put his apparent death behind us. But he’s alive! And he looked good!
In under eight minutes of garbage time, Black put up four points and four rebounds, exhibiting the skills that the Lakers desperately need from him. To be specific, he is pretty darn good at setting screens and rolling to the rim, a skill that pretty much none of the Lakers’ rotation bigs possess. This game happened without D’Angelo Russell, unfortunately, but it becomes more and more apparent every day that the rookie point guard could REALLY use a guy like Black. I don’t know if garbage time minutes were enough to prove that to Byron Scott, but I really hope so.
One more talking point, on a similar note, is that Scott once again did not find minutes to test out a Randle-Nance, Jr. combination. If Scott does not want to play Black, then he should at least give this lineup a go. If it works, it fixes the problem of finding minutes for both players who certainly deserve plenty of playing time. There can be concern about the team’s rim protection but would playing LNJ at the center position really be worse than playing Bass? I think not and I would like to at least test that theory.
This is two blowout games in a row (one in each direction) since Scott mentioned the possibility of testing that lineup but neither game has featured it. If you are worried about the performance of the team during that experiment, then a blowout seems like the perfect time to implement, does it not? Then again, logic is not something that has been very apparent throughout this Lakers season.
In conclusion, the Warriors are good. The Lakers are not. #FreeTarik #WeWantLuke