(Adam Pantozzi/Getty Images)
Lakers showcase their depth in win over Warriors
LOS ANGELES – Call that a business-like win.
Playing on the second night of a road-home back-to-back and with Anthony Davis wearing street clothes on the bench, the Lakers handled the task at hand with aplomb and earned their 9th win of the season on Wednesday night.
“It’s been a while since we had one like that,” head coach Frank Vogel admitted.
LeBron James dominated and skipped the fourth quarter. The big man committee excelled. Kyle Kuzma (22 points on 12 shots) played well in extended minutes. The bench scored 45.
In the end, the 26-point margin closely reflected the difference between both teams on the STAPLES Center hardwood. Vogel’s squad went up by double digits early, and only some pesky turnovers and excessive fouling in the first half prevented a more bloated final score.
This is what happens when the offense is firing in all cylinders and the defense performs at the level it has during most of the young season.
L.A. made 14 of their first 17 shot attempts. Defense led to offense, and the paint was once again fertile ground. And with James on fire from the jump, particularly as a distributor, the bigs got plenty of touches – and delivered.
JaVale McGee finished with 18 points and 17 rebounds in 28 minutes. Dwight Howard added 15 and 8 from the bench.
“It’s been playing perfect,” said McGee of the timeshare at the center position. “I feel like we both have been playing at an elite level with the minutes that we’ve been given, and combined we’ve been an elite big.”
The former Warrior also blocked 3 shots and was also instrumental in his own hoop, helping the team keep Golden State to 36 points in the paint.
Meanwhile, Howard was a key cog in a second unit that allowed the starters to get some rest in the fourth after a tough win the previous night in Phoenix.
LeBron draws the double. Dwight does the rest. pic.twitter.com/tkdnGoWUVG— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) November 14, 2019
Such an effort from the bench was necessary on a night the team was also missing Rajon Rondo (rest), and the level of poise and execution sure pleased Vogel.
The end result was another 30+ assist performance, the 5th of the season in 11 games.
The philosophy of the extra pass was in full display in this sequence:
Alex Caruso starts the possession and winds up finishing it, but not before every player touched the ball and swung it to the open man.
As a season veteran, Jared Dudley explained the importance of not forcing things:
Jared Dudley says that, with LeBron and AD on the team, two of the “best players on the planet,” shot selection is important and will keep getting better: “We should never take tough shots.” Ball movement has really improved the last two games. Space it out, knock it down.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) November 14, 2019
And thus the team hummed along until the final buzzer, with James enjoying the last 13:54 as just another spectator.
“He was terrific early, and really the whole night, but for him to come in and set the tone for the whole group with regards to the importance of this game and how we’re going to play and how we’re going to approach it, everybody else followed the lead and really competed” Vogel said.
He’d done his part, that’s for sure: 23 points, 12 assists, six rebounds, a steal, a block, and countless moments that brought the crowd to its feet in this comfortably enjoyable W.
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