Russell Westbrook #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots a 3-pointer against the Cleveland Cavaliers on October 29, 2021.
Russell Westbrook #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots a 3-pointer against the Cleveland Cavaliers on October 29, 2021.
Adam Pantozzi

Lakers Look Alive in Second Half Win

by Taylor Geas

It felt like two different games were played this Friday night in Los Angeles. Tuning in to the first half of the contest it appeared the Cleveland Cavaliers were going to take this one. But that’s why they say “it’s not over until it’s over” because the second half was a Friday night screening of the Lake Show. Lakers win, 113-101.

The first half was covered in purple and gold turnovers. The Cavaliers had a much easier time stringing passes together. Cleveland’s assists nearly doubled Los Angeles’ heading into the third quarter. It was actually just before halftime though that the Lakers started to find their groove with one another. Their passes started converting to points and their defense clicked to prevent them. After being down the entire second quarter, they fought back and tied Cleveland 54-54 at half. Seriously though, things got going in the third and fourth. It looked like Lakers Basketball out there. After 15 turnovers in the first half, the Lakers found composure and only let the ball run free into Cleveland’s hands twice in the third. The fourth quarter was in Los Angeles’ hands from the first whistle to the final buzzer.

After missing two matches with a right ankle injury, LeBron James (26 pts, 8 ast, 3 stl) was back in action tonight as he faced his professional basketball alma mater. And it just so happens, in his career, LeBron is 15-1 versus the Cavs. Make that 16-1 after tonight. Bron was a bit ambitious with his passes and committed a few too many turnovers to start, but the King couldn’t be contained in the lane. And his passes eventually started landing — especially those to Carmelo Anthony (24 pts, 5 reb). Melo was mean from the arc tonight. The guy went 6-for-8 from three. He had half of his team’s three-pointers. Not mellow.

It was Russell Westbrook leading the fast break (19 pts, 5 ast, 6 reb) and Kent Bazemore as a defensive menace that were the sparks that lit the fire going into the latter half of the game, but it can’t go without saying that Austin Reaves (7 pts) was the flicker. It was Westbrook leading the fast break. He was feeling the reverse layup and was confidently cruising through the lane. Oftentimes, Russ was dodging three or four Cavaliers.

As for the flicker... Rookie Reaves, he is relentless. He doesn’t shy away from contact and has a snipe of a pass. But Austin’s energy and his won’t-back-down attitude was a thing of beauty (and consistency) among the chaotic Lakers play in quarters one and two. It was Reaves and Avery Bradley (7 pts) that gave their teammates a steady pulse. Bradley, who went +30, is often recognized for this perimeter defense but was doing it all, including a vicious dunk and a dagger from three.

Coach Frank Vogel said that the team is “still learning each other.” But tonight it looked like flashes of knowing each other. The team came together. There was chemistry. There was charisma. And they closed.

Lakers are back on Sunday to face the Houston Rockets.

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