Anthony Davis
(Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images)

Surging offense carries Lakers to their 12th win

by Rodrigo Azurmendi
Staff Writer

LOS ANGELES – The offense is here too.

It’s widely known that the key to the blazing start to the season has been the best defense in the NBA, but it now appears that Frank Vogel’s squad is rounding into form on the opposite basket as well.

That was in plain sight Tuesday night, with L.A. playing to the tune of a scorching hot 115.5 offensive rating in their win against Oklahoma City Thunder – their 5th in a row.

It wasn’t all the product of LeBron James and Anthony Davis having magnificent performances, but that sure didn’t hurt.

The duo dominated the Thunder, scoring a combined 59 points while shooting 23-for-55 from the field – and a cool 50% from beyond the arc.

The first quarter faithfully foreshadowed a lot of the tendencies seen throughout the game, from Davis’ accuracy to LeBron’s playmaking (and uncharacteristic sloppiness with the ball), to OKC’s ability to answer every Lakers run with one of their own.

That explained how, despite L.A. being slightly better across the board throughout the full 48, the game wasn’t decided until Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s dagger with 55.3 seconds to go.

This particular play shows that it isn’t just LBJ and AD fueling this surge.

KCP shot 3-for-4 and scored 13. Alex Caruso added a pair of long-range bombs in the first half. And Rajon Rondo, well…Rondo dismantled the Thunder defense with an incredible collection of millimetric passes that had the offense humming throughout the game.

The veteran point guard’s 10 assists (nine in the first half) generated 25 points.

“Rajon's statistics are not measured on a stat sheet, it's measured in swag,” Vogel said. “He just gives us some confidence, and an air about us. We know we’re going into a battle with a heck of a basketball player. He just helps our swag.”

That play showed how little margin for error this offense affords opponents. In the waning moments of the second quarter, Dennis Schroder rushed (and missed) a shot with about 4.7 seconds remaining. Unfortunately for OKC, that was all Rondo – and James – needed to traverse the length of the court and execute the alley-oop.

And that’s exactly how this Lakers team hurts you. L.A. had the same number of turnovers as the Thunder (16), but turned their opponent’s miscues into 27 points – managing to score 30 fast break points against the best team in the league at defending them.

“That’s how we want to play every night,” Vogel said about his team attacking mentality.

Along the same lines, Vogel’s squad translated their 14 offensive rebounds into 25 second-chance points.

So yes, Davis scored 34 on 24 shots and LeBron had his 5th triple-double of the season with a 25-11-10 stat line (making some history along the way), but takeaway is the variety of ways in which this team can earn wins, even when the defense has an off night.

“When we play fast, we’re a tough team to beat,” Davis said.

This performance guarantees the Lakers will keep rising within the Top 10 in offensive rating in the league. The only question now is how high they can go.

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