The Lakers could be on a much longer winning streak if not for a blemish against the Orlando Magic on November 17th, a matchup which saw the Lakers start off strong before faltering and allowing the Magic to take over the game moving forward.
Following that game, the Lakers heavily relied on LeBron James to win the games against the Heat and the Cavaliers albeit with this a more aggressive look from the younger players. Both Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram have shown off the potential that made them such intriguing prospects when they were drafted.
Against Cleveland, Lonzo showed the aggression that was so desperately needed all throughout this season and Ingram followed that with 24 points (setting the tone early with 11 first-quarter points) against the Jazz.
Friday’s “game” against the Jazz showed the sort of defense that was so important for the Lakers last year. Per Forum Blue and Gold: the starting five had a defensive rating of 61.3 which is just unheard of. As ugly as the game got on the offensive end, it was won through some stellar defense from the Lakers.
LeBron said it best
You will have games where you have to win it defensively no matter how you are playing offensively. And that’s what we did today.
That sort of effort and defensive intensity was sorely lacking against that loss against Orlando and if they want to even out the season series against the Magic, they will have to replicate the effort they have been showing.
As a team with deep playoff aspirations, you can’t have players like DJ Augustin running wild (22 points, seven assists). Nikola Vucevic dropped 36 points as well. The Lakers are currently 1.5 games out of first place as the seventh seed. There is a very small window of error in the Western Conference.
I would like to see Kyle Kuzma play well as he’s been below his standards the past few games (also I have him on fantasy). I don’t think we’ve seen a game where it looks like all of the young guys are clicking. It’s either one or two of them. If he doesn’t continue to play well, I wouldn’t be mad if he were benched in place of Josh Hart. Kuzma’s defensive liability can be masked with someone like Tyson Chandler and he can take over against second units.
If they can keep the intensity and aggressiveness up, it would speed up the development of the younger players. I love seeing Lonzo get to the paint and take open shots or even see Ingram using his ungodly length to his advantage. Less talk about their potential, let’s see them show it against the Magic.
The Orlando Magic are at the Los Angeles Lakers. The game starts at 12:30 PST.