LAKERS -at- PELICANS - 5/16 - Thoughts and :-)) Ratings

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PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2021 8:34 pm    Post subject: LAKERS -at- PELICANS - 5/16 - Thoughts and :-)) Ratings

Play Into the Playoffs... The Lakers won their fifth straight game, 110-98, against the Pelicans to close out the regular season.

The last few games were tune-ups for the playoffs. Tonight, the stakes in this game faded pretty quickly as other scores from around the league came in. The league jockeyed for final playoff seedings, and avoiding the Lakers seemed to be a top priority for many.

The Lakers will play the Warriors on Wednesday for that seventh seed.

“They got championship DNA, as well,” LeBron said.

LeBron looked good tonight -- jumping passing lanes for steals and getting to the rim for scores -- until he landed on a foot off a spin move midway through the fourth quarter. He walked slowly to the bench in a little pain. We’ll see how that impacts his game on Wednesday.

Time to lock in on the Warriors.

LeBron -- -- A little twist on the ankle off a spin move midway through the fourth quarter when he probably shouldn’t have been playing at that point. He hobbled to the bench slowly. It didn’t look like much movement occurring on that. Hopefully, it’s only minor. He was looking fairly spry throughout the game, but clearly he’s got a bit to go before that injury is behind him. Some excellent reads defensively, jumping passing lanes on the perimeter or making free safety reads on the backline of the defense. That led to some defense-to-offense possessions. He was getting to the rim with some consistency early and hit a deep three. The post fade wasn’t dropping but he finished with 16 points on 7-13 shooting in the first half. Some nice work trying to work some two-man action where he was the screen setter and other set him up. That allowed him to get a straight light run to the rim for some finishes. Three ball looked good. Overall, good game, but the injury questions linger more now. The Stats: He scored 25 points on 11-22 shooting (2-5 from three, 1-2 from the line) to go with 1 board, 6 assists, 3 steals and 2 turnovers in 27 minutes. He was a -2.

Davis -- -- Quiet first half with just 4 points on 2-4 shooting. Not a lot of stats in general as he seemed to take it easy like he sometimes does. In the second half, when LeBron and Drummond sat, he started to go to work more and you saw those freethrow attempts start to add up. The jumper wasn’t there for him tonight. He’d finish around the rim for a few hoops. He came away healthy. We’ve seen the big games from him. So, hopefully, he’s ready to throttle up for the playoff run. The team still looks a bit shaky, but there was no reason to flex the muscle in these last two like they can. They will need to in the next one. “We’re not going into this game thinking it’s easy,” AD said of the Warriors matchup. The Stats: He scored 14 points on 5-12 shooting (0-3 from three, 4-6 from the line) to go with 5 boards, 1 assist, 1 steal and 1 turnover in 30 minutes. He was a +12.

Schröder -- -- The shot was falling early with a couple of threes and a midrange jumper. He had 10 points in the first quarter, then just 2 the rest of the way. Some nice work attacking off the high screens with Drummond cutting in from the corner to take passes from Schröder for dunks. Defensively, he looked a bit feistier but some issues. We saw LeBron getting ticked at Schröder for blowing a zone assignment out of a dead ball. The Stats: He scored 12 points on 5-11 shooting (2-6 from three) to go with 3 boards, 4 assists, 2 steals and 3 fouls in 29 minutes. He was a -1.

Caldwell-Pope -- -- He led the team with the +17. The midrange shots coming off handoffs were looking automatic. I forget who had the stats, but scoring off handoffs has always been his strength. He just shoots better. Some nice moments of two-man sequences. He had a two-man action with LeBron where KCP got middle, which is death for the defense and he set up LeBron for a score. I love that sequence because KCP is also a good midrange shooter if they try to take away the pass. Hope we see it more. He’s clearly looking more comfortable with all that talent around him where he can slide into the role he knows and others can set him up. He looks ready for the playoffs. Defensively, he, Schröder and AC will be battling Curry. They need to contain him and have had some good stretches of that in the past. The Stats: He scored 10 points on 4-8 shooting (2-6 from three) to go with 1 board, 6 assists, 1 stea and 3 fouls in 28 minutes. He was a +17.

Drummond -- -- “I think we look good being our third time playing together,” Drummond said. He mentioned his job has become very easy. “Once we get that chemistry, it’s nightmares,” Drummond said. Some tweaks to get him finishing better. Instead of putting him in the dunker spots while we work high screens, we’ve had him go out to the corner, then cut baseline as the action happens. This gets him a running start at the rim and is resulting in some dunks. Nice adjustment. He finished the half with a couple of dunks on his way to 9 points, 12 boards (5 offensive) and 2 blocks in the first two quarters. Second half, he had another dunk trailing LeBron’s drive off the two-man sequence. Again, another sequence where he gets a runway to the hoop. You see the chemistry happening. Can they pull it together in time? Defensively, some moments challenging shots. He’s looked more aggressive and fouls come with that. He had 5 by the third quarter. The Stats: He scored 13 points on 6-11 shooting (1-3 from the line) to go with 13 boards, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 2 turnovers and 5 fouls in 21 minutes. He was a -1.

Gasol -- -- He took over the backup C role in this one for Trezz. I like seeing him as a screen setter on weakside of post ups. He is constantly thinking about the counter to the overplays by the defense. He had 4 assists as we put the ball in his hands more. Some great bounce passes to cutters off of those. Would have been fun watching him in the triangle back in the day. Those weakside pinch post sequences would have been a frequent weapon. Hard to saw what rotation the Lakers go with in the next game. You might see more small ball and less of our backup Cs. Trezz has also had some good games against Draymond/Warriors in the past. But his tendencies on defense to sag back could cause issues, whereas Gasol can help force the ball out of Curry’s hands at times. The Stats: He scored 3 points on 1-4 shooting (1-3 from three) to go with 7 boards, 4 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 1 turnover and 2 fouls in 27 minutes. He was a +27.

Kuzma -- -- He cruised a bit in this game. You could tell he was not thinking about scoring early on one pass off where he was right at the rim. Then maybe he figure out a loophole and passed to himself off the glass for a dunk. It was a nice up and under at the freethrow line to lose the defender. The look on AD’s face after Kuz hammered that one. He had a couple more rim attacks, one from the corner for a backhand reverse and another attack where he went high off the glass on a hook. The Stats: He scored 8 points on 3-5 shooting (2-2 from the line) to go with 6 boards, 3 assists and no fouls in 27 minutes. He was a +7.

Caruso -- -- Back in the mix. Somehow he led the bench in scoring. That was a quiet 9 points. He sank a three, swished a tough hanging jumper, had a layup off a Gasol pass and then another cutting baseline weak to strong to score a reverse off a LeBron behind-the-back post feed. He found AD for a couple of scores, one as he grabbed an offensive board between a couple defenders and then hit him cutting. Another on a weird sequence where AD pretended he was going to set a screen then stopped in the middle of the paint and AC fed him. They caught the D sleeping. Just 19 minutes tonight. I want to see a lot more than that in the playoffs. The Stats: He scored 9 points on 4-8 shooting (1-4 from three) to go with 3 boards, 5 assists, 1 block and 1 foul in 19 minutes. He was a +13.

Horton-Tucker -- -- He had a quiet night, sinking a three off a soft bounce. He got his shot swatted a couple of times. We did see him score on a rare floater in the paint. He swished it. That’s a deadly shot for him if he gets that as a tool. He’d just be impossible to deal with in the paint. The Stats: He scored 6 points on 2-6 shooting (1-2 from three, 1-2 from the line to go with 1 board, 1 assist, 2 steals, 1 turnover and 1 foul in 14 minutes. He was a +0.

Matthews -- -- He had 8 points in 6 minutes in the first half, hitting a couple of threes (one on an ATO set up for him, another on a swing pass). He also worked off the Gasol screen to lose his man and take a return pass for a layup. He did a great job getting back in transition, as well, to deflect passes and get stops in that first half. The Stats: He scored 8 points on 3-6 shooting (2-5 from three) to go with 2 steals, 1 turnover and no fouls in 11 minutes. He was a +1.

Dudley -- -- “It will be the hardest challenge any team has had in NBA history,” Dudley said of the Lakers playoff run. I’m hoping he’s getting the Lakers focused and amped up for the run. With 4:29 left, he subbed in the game, back from the knee injury. He missed a couple threes, grabbed a couple boards and had some smothering D to force a turnover. “I do think it’s funny you see a lot of teams managing these last couple to try to avoid us,” he said. He called it good strategy, though. He said he’d want to play us early rather than later. The Stats: He didn’t score on 0-2 shooting and had 2 boards in 4 minutes. He was a -1.

McLemore -- -- Not in the rotation tonight, he came in for the final minute of garbage time. The Stats: He had no stats and was a +1 in 1 minute.

McKinnie -- -- He scored a short one off a THT feed in his minute of action. The Stats: He had 2 points on 1-1 shooting in 1 minute. He was a +1.

Vogel -- -- Key Moment: Probably when the Pelicans decided to sit everyone prior to this. The Lakers did have a strong third quarter defensively as they held the Pelicans to 17 points. They kept them to 39 points in the second half after giving up 59 in the first half. Hopefully, that second half was more indicative of the Lakers getting serious. Because it’s time to get serious again.

Key Substitution: With 6:43 left in the game, LeBron came down on a spin move in transition and didn’t get up. He twisted the ankle slightly and sat on the ground for a bit before we subbed him out. He hobbled back to the bench as we took a foul. Of course, the question is do you really care about playing him late in this one when it’s clear Portland had their game in control.

Key Stats: I wanted to see the team turn steals into easy points in the last game. Tonight, they had 14 steals and won the turnover battle 21-10 and the points off turnovers 23-9.

Coach’s Challenge: With 9:41 in the third, Vogel challenged a block/charge call against Schröder who stood in to take the contact. Unsuccessful.
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PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2021 8:37 pm    Post subject:

Thanks DB!
“There is always light if only we're brave enough to see it, if only we're brave enough to be it.” --Amanda Gorman
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PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2021 9:50 pm    Post subject:

Gasol and AC +13, KCP +17. Doing the little things to win.
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PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2021 10:36 pm    Post subject:

Thanks DB.

Such a ho-hum game to end a really strange, topsy-turvy, season for the team. LBJ missing basically 1/3 of the season. While AD missed half. DS got nailed - twice - with COVID protocols.

In the in game thread, you could see the varying views of the team. On the one hand, there are those who believe the team will rain doom on their opponents, not to read much into what we saw tonight, or last night, with closer-than-you'd expect games vs subpar competition. On the other, folks who recall, even when healthy earlier this year, the team just had issues putting folks away, even the not so good teams (remember those 3 consecutive OT games?)

I think both views are valid, as it depends on which end of that point of view spectrum you want to sit. In the end, the truth is probably somewhere in between - they have the potential to rain doom on anyone, but boy, they sure seem to struggle at times.

Looking into their attempt to repeat, the one big sticking issue are these scoring droughts, aka "3 stooge basketball" moments that seem to hit the team a couple times a game pretty frequently. I'm not sure that trend - or habit - or whatever you want to call it, will go away. I know one concern of mine is there are teams that seem to play 48 minutes of good to great basketball and do not seem to hit the lows during a game the Lakers do as often. That's where I can see issues cropping up. Hopefully, the coaching staff has some wrinkle to just reduce (if not eliminate) that issue.

Looking back at the regular season, it's been a very odd ride. The 21-6 start. The AD injury. Then the LBJ injury. Them controlling their playoff/ play-in fate...then falling apart for a bit and losing that. Then finishing strong with a 5 game win streak.

I'm really hoping the latter - that win streak - gives the fellas that nice little morale boost going in. Let's hope for some great D and timely shooting as the post-season now begins.
"One thing I admire about Kuzma is his unwavering confidence. He truly has no idea that he’s not as good as he thinks." - Killer_Z
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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2021 2:11 am    Post subject:


Thanks as always.

Now that the Laker "classes" are over, let's get to the exams!

If the Lakers can stay healthy, anything is possible!

Here's hoping they will be raising banner number 18 this year and having two championship parades this summer!
Let them HATE so long as they FEAR!
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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2021 4:01 am    Post subject:

Thanks, DB!

Good to end the season with everyone healthy and ready for the playoffs. Can't recall the last time we had EVERY PLAYER available to play.
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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2021 8:53 pm    Post subject:

Thanks DB! Good to end the season on a high note, after so many injuries, ups and downs. Here's hoping LeBron's ankle is ready to go, good to see the team back together again and starting to kick butt on opponents.

Now time to go win another title!
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