Lakers player grades: L.A. is manhandled by Cavaliers
The Los Angeles Lakers faced a stiff challenge in the form of the 7-1 Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday afternoon.
Early on, it looked like L.A. was ready to meet the challenge. It got out to a sizeable early lead that it maintained throughout the first half, as it did a good job defending the rim.
But once Anthony Davis picked up his fourth foul and exited with just under five minutes left in the third quarter, things turned upside down.
Head coach Darvin Ham went with a small lineup at that point that featured 6-foot-9 Wenyen Gabriel at center. With LeBron James also out for the last 1:59 of the third period and the first 44 seconds of the fourth period, Cleveland was able to build a big lead and pull away for a 114-100 win.
The Lakers scored 64 points in the first half, but they were held to just 16 points in the third quarter and 20 in the fourth quarter. Once again, they couldn’t hit from downtown, as they made just 29.6 percent of their 3-point attempts.
Anthony Davis: C+
Just as he did on Friday versus the Utah Jazz, Davis played well in the first half but disappeared in the second half. He started out being aggressive, getting to the free throw line often, although he made just 5-of-9 from the charity stripe.
He finished with 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting, 12 rebounds, four assists and one blocked shot.
LeBron James: B/B+
James’ jumper wasn’t falling on Sunday, especially in the first two or three quarters, but he did end up going 13-of-23 from the field to score 27 points.
However, even though he seems to have gotten his energy back after dealing with some sort of infection earlier in the week, he didn’t seem to have his usual impact.
He shot only three free throws, missing all of them, and he managed only four assists. The lack of assists wasn’t all his fault, as his teammates had trouble hitting from the outside, and as the game wore on, they also started missing chippies at or near the rim.
Troy Brown Jr.: B
Brown went 5-of-12 overall and a solid 2-of-5 from 3-point range to finish with 12 points, as well as six rebounds. The Lakers could use better defense from him, but offensively he seems to be contributing at a decent level.
Kendrick Nunn: D
After barely playing in L.A.’s last few games, Nunn got the start today for Patrick Beverley, who had a non-COVID illness. In 18 minutes, Nunn missed all five of his shot attempts and finished with two assists and three rebounds.
He’s clearly out of rhythm after missing all of last season with a bone bruise in his knee and being played very inconsistently so far this season.
Lonnie Walker IV: D-/C+
Walker has been playing well lately, but on Sunday he was very lackluster, going 3-of-7 from the field and scoring just six points in 19 minutes.
The Lakers getting only six points from their starting backcourt was a significant factor in their loss to Cleveland.
Russell Westbrook: B/B+
Yet again, Westbrook gave the Lakers an immediate lift when he came into the contest. He was racking up assists in the first half as he looked to set up his teammates while picking and choosing when he attacked the basket.
An issue that seems to keep coming up is the fact that Westbrook is losing his effectiveness in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter. His layups stopped falling later in the game, and he started to turn the ball over more often, as he had seven in total.
But overall, the Westbrook experiment off the bench seems to be going well, at least so far. He had 19 points, 10 assists, three rebounds and two steals against the Cavs, and he again shot well from the outside, going 3-of-5 from beyond the arc.
Matt Ryan: B-
Ryan played 17 minutes and went 2-of-3 from downtown and 2-of-6 overall. Both of his made 3-pointers came in garbage time.
Opponents seem to be sticking to him like glue. However, that helps his teammates, as it helps spread the floor a bit and keep the paint more open for them.
Wenyen Gabriel: B
The Lakers can always count on Gabriel to give them some decent energy and effort, even though he is undersized at 6-foot-9 and 205 pounds, especially when he plays at the 5.
His energy and effort attracted four points on 2-of-4 shooting and four rebounds in 15 minutes.
Juan Toscano-Anderson: D
Toscano-Anderson played 12 minutes and went 1-of-2 from the floor to end with two points, one rebound and one assist. He may still be feeling his way back into the flow after missing three games several days ago.
Austin Reaves: C+
Reaves grabbed four rebounds, but he contributed almost nothing offensively, missing both of his shot attempts and getting zero assists.
He did a good job of turning down semi-contested 3-pointers off the catch, but once he drove into the lane, nothing good happened for him. Give the Cavs credit for that, as they’re one of the NBA’s best defensive teams.
Max Christie: Incomplete
The second-round draft pick got five minutes of playing time once the game was out of reach. He hit his lone shot attempt, which was a mid-range jumper from the wing.