Lakers player grades: L.A. collapses in second half vs. Celtics in LeBron’s return

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LeBron James couldn’t save the Los Angeles Lakers in his return as the squad lost to the Boston Celtics, 130-108.

The first quarter went just as smooth as L.A. could’ve hoped for. Anthony Davis dominated down low, LeBron connected on his jumpers and Malik Monk chipped in with 3s. The Lakers led by 14 at one point.

But that was the high point for Los Angeles.

Boston came out in the second quarter and responded. Marcus Smart and Dennis Schroder killed L.A.’s defense with their penetration on the offensive end, and the Lakers started to stall with their schemes.

The third quarter woes returned, too. The Celtics went on an 8-0 run to open the period and outscored L.A. 33-21. Jayson Tatum headlined the fourth quarter as the Lakers never found a way to stop the bleeding.

Here is how the Lakers, now 8-9, graded individually:

Russell Westbrook: F

Russell Westbrook’s best moments came at the start of the fourth when he scored six points by attacking the rim with force. Other than that, he was outplayed by Dennis Schroder, despite not being his direct matchup.

Westbrook went 5-of-13 from the floor (1-of-4 3P, 1-of-4 FT) for 12 points, six assists and four rebounds. Schroder, who the Lakers replaced over the summer in order to acquire Westbrook, put up 21 points, six rebounds and six assists on 8-of-14 shooting (4-of-4 FT).

Avery Bradley: D-minus

Avery Bradley made both of his 3s to help the Lakers’ scoring, but he couldn’t stop Schroder or Smart and committed bad turnovers on offense. The Lakers also perplexing ran offensive action through him at times, and it didn’t end well.

Talen Horton-Tucker: F

Talen Horton-Tucker had his worst game of the season at an inopportune time. He’s easily been the best Laker since returning from injury, but adjusting to LeBron’s presence will take some time.

The 20-year-old guard missed all six of his shots and struggled, understandably, to defend Tatum at the small forward matchup. He had two points, three assists and two rebounds in 27 minutes.

LeBron James: B

LeBron James earns the highest grade of the night, which is a bad look for L.A. considering how he missed the last eight games. James came out confident and comfortable early, drilling tough fadeaways and 3-pointers. He also did fantastic on defense directing players to correct positions and maintaining structure.

He finished with 23 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals while shooting 10-of-16 overall and 3-of-7 from deep.

Anthony Davis: D

This seems harsh for someone who dropped 31 points, six rebounds, three blocks and two assists, but Davis settled way too often despite a strong first quarter.

Instead of making his presence felt, he let Boston’s defense, a strong one, dictate the way he played. He took deep mid-range jumpers and 3s when he should’ve put the ball on the floor and made a play another way. That just won’t cut it.

Carmelo Anthony: C

Carmelo Anthony passed the test on offense with a 3-of-4 clip from downtown, but he failed on the defensive end. He fouled at improper times and couldn’t be relied upon to hold his own against Boston’s bigs.

Malik Monk: D-plus

Malik Monk’s offensive production was the best in the first quarter; he slowed after that. He also got caught ball-watching way too often, so Boston had no problem exploiting that.

Rajon Rondo: N/A

Rajon Rondo played first-half minutes even with LeBron, Westbrook and Horton-Tucker available. He made a tremendous lob to Davis but didn’t play enough during that stint to warrant a grade. He played garbage-time minutes in the fourth quarter, but that alley-oop was a solid play against his former team.

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