After getting killed at home in a 125-110 loss to the Sacramento Kings, the Los Angeles Lakers went on a quick trip up north to take on the struggling, short-handed Portland Trail Blazers on Friday evening.
As opposed to what has transferred far too often this season, they got off to a quick start by leading 18-8 and then 28-15 in the first quarter. Portland made a couple of mini-runs to come to within one or two points, but L.A. just had too much talent and firepower, as it powered its way to a 107-95 win to improve to 7-6 on the season and 3-0 in group play in the in-season tournament.
This wasn’t a clean game by any means. The Lakers turned the ball over 18 times, but on the other hand, they forced quite a few turnovers themselves. Their active hands and legs allowed them to score 26 fast-break points, and they could’ve easily had more had they not allowed Portland to turn 19 offensive rebounds into 22 second-chance points.
But a win is a win, and with the way they have been struggling to start the season, they will take any wins they can get.
Anthony Davis: B/B-minus
Davis missed five of his first six shots, and although he perked up offensively later in the second quarter, he never quite got going like he usually does. He finished the game just 8-of-19 from the field, giving him only 16 points, and he dealt with quite a few double-teams, which was one reason why he committed six turnovers.
In addition, he seemed to get hacked quite a few times, but he wasn’t getting calls. He attempted just one free throw the entire night, and he missed that lone foul shot.
However, Davis showed great effort on the boards and especially on the defensive end, and that effort allowed him to finish with 14 rebounds, five blocked shots and three steals.
Make no mistake about it — even though he didn’t play very well offensively, Davis was a big reason L.A. won this game.
Taurean Prince: C-plus
Prince had a bit of a difficult game, as he shot just 3-of-7 overall and 1-of-5 from 3-point range. He finished with 10 points, three assists and two steals.
While the Lakers shot 40.0% from 3-point range, that figure is misleading. Other than LeBron James and D’Angelo Russell, they were just 3-of-14 from that distance. Men such as Prince need to start hitting from the outside in order to discourage double-teams on players such as Davis.
Cam Reddish: B/B-plus
Reddish continues to look like a much different player ever since he moved into the starting lineup. He has given the Lakers a boost defensively, not just with his activity but also his resourcefulness. His anticipation of when to go after the ball has been excellent, and in this game, it led to him coming up with three steals, to go along with one block.
Offensively, he knocked down half of his four shots and two 3-point attempts to score eight points in 31 minutes. His role on offense isn’t to score lots of points — it’s to be a supplementary scorer by keeping the floor spaced and finishing in transition, and he’s doing well in that role these days.
D'Angelo Russell: B
Russell started this game out hot. He shot 4-of-7 in the first half, and he finished the game 5-of-10 from the field and 4-of-7 from beyond the arc, giving him 14 points in 29 minutes.
Although Russell dished off six assists, he also had four turnovers. Ball security has been a big strength for him, but turnovers have been a problem at times for the Lakers this season, and it’s something they need to clean up.
LeBron James: A
It’s incredible what James continues to be able to do with the amount of mileage he has on his body. In 35 minutes, he scored 35 points on 13-of-22 shooting, to go along with nine assists, five rebounds and two steals. He is picking his spots, and it is allowing him to play spurts of outstanding basketball when needed.
One of the best things about James’ play so far this season is his outside shooting. Last season he struggled mightily from 3-point range, but this season has been a different story. He went 5-of-9 from downtown on Friday, and on the year he’s now at 39.7% from that distance. It’s very early, but the only other time he shot such a high percentage from that distance was during the 2012-13 season.
Rui Hachimura: B-minus
Hachimura was quiet on Friday, but he was also efficient. He shot 3-of-5 and scored seven points while adding five rebounds and two assists in 28 minutes.
Christian Wood: B-plus/A-minus
Wood finally showed some offensive spark with six points in the first four minutes of the second quarter. Overall, he shot 5-of-9 from the field, giving him 10 points in 20 minutes. He has been dry offensively for the last several games, and perhaps this was a bit of a breakout performance for him.
The big man also took down 10 rebounds against Portland. The Lakers need to do a better job of consistently getting him the ball, especially in the low post and in iso situations, but they finally started to do that at times in this game.
Reaves had a second straight rough outing on Friday. He shot just 1-of-4 and finished with just seven points, four assists and two rebounds while committing three turnovers in 18 minutes.
Los Angeles needs to do a better job of giving Reaves room to operate on the ball by setting better screens for him so that he can play downhill. Opponents have been sticking to him like glue when he has had the ball, and it has limited his opportunities to get to his sweet spots or make forays into the paint.
Jaxson Hayes: D
In eight minutes, Hayes had minimal impact, as he came up with only one rebound, one steal and zero points.
Max Christie, Maxwell Lewis: Incomplete
Both players came in at the end of the game once the victory was secured. Christie missed his only shot but did come up with a rebound, while Lewis made no contributions on the stat sheet.