Lakers report card: Player grades for Game 1 vs. Suns

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As the Los Angeles Lakers look to rebound in Game 2 against the Phoenix Suns, let’s take a look at how the Lakers fared individually in the opening contest.

As a unit, the performance was bleak. Los Angeles played with minimal energy from the start, as they allowed Phoenix to get to their spots comfortably with little resistance.

Though their defense tightened up in the second half, their offensive struggles persisted.

Los Angeles finished the game shooting 43.4% from the field overall and 26.9% from 3-point range, worse than Phoenix’s numbers of 46.5% overall and 32.1% from deep.

If the Lakers hope to steal Game 2 on the road, a huge component is simply making their shots. The Suns boast the sixth-best defense in the NBA, so when open looks and opportunities arrive, they have to convert.

Let’s look at how the Lakers graded for Game 1:

Dennis Schroder: B-

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Dennis Schroder shined the most during the first and third quarters, primarily on offense. His ability to attack the basket and draw free throws manifested in the opening quarter, but his inability to convert the freebies resulted in a 3-of-6 mark from the stripe. Three of the 11 misses for L.A. from the free throw line allocate to Schroder, which would've trimmed the deficit. In the third quarter, he made some tough layups in traffic to revive the offense when it stalled for long durations. Schroder finished the game with 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting to go with three assists, two steals, one block and one rebound.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: C-

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Kentavious Caldwell-Pope rarely makes mistakes on the defensive end of the floor. In the 8:00 minutes he guarded Devin Booker, who exploded for 34 points on 50% shooting, Caldwell-Pope held Booker to just five points on 40% shooting. But his grade decreased because of his offense. Averaging a career-high 41% from 3-point range on the season, he went 1-of-7 (14.2%) from deep in Game 1 and 2-of-9 overall. Los Angeles needs more than seven points from Caldwell-Pope to win this series, and shooting that poorly, especially when his looks were open, won't get the job done.

LeBron James: B

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Hovering around a B/B- grade, LeBron James earned the best grade of the game for L.A. — but by a slim margin. As James has performed in previous Game 1s throughout his career, he doesn't always look to take over to win. That was evident in this game, as he scored 18 points on 6-of-13 shooting, grabbed seven rebounds, dropped 10 dimes and stole the ball three times. But he also turned the ball over and five times and went 3-of-6 from the free throw line. Los Angeles needs James to play like the superstar he is, but he showed it in flashes, not consistently.

Anthony Davis: D-

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The Lakers needed Anthony Davis to dominate as he did previously against Phoenix during the regular season. Instead, Davis couldn't rival Deandre Ayton's production, who made his playoff debut. Davis also posted a -18 on the game, the worst of any player who stepped on the floor. Ayton was a +16. Davis often settled for tough jumpers with slim shooting space, and it didn't help that the spacing wasn't favorable either. Still, the Lakers can't afford Davis to play like this again, otherwise, it could be a quick series for them.

Andre Drummond: C-

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Andre Drummond's best ability is grabbing rebounds, mostly offensive ones, in bunches. He did just that, grabbing seven of the team's 10 offensive rebounds. However, he also let Ayton snag eight offensive rebounds on the other end of the floor, and often appeared lost when defending off the ball, resulting in defensive errors and easy points for Phoenix. Drummond's 12 points and nine rebounds in 19 minutes look palatable, but it made little impact.

Montrezl Harrell: B-

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Montrezl Harrell was one of the first reserves to enter the game for L.A. in the opening quarter, but his impact in the second quarter stood out the most. His two-man game with James slowly chipped away at the deficit, and Harrell finished the game with 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting and 4-of-5 free throw shooting in 15 minutes. He added three rebounds and two steals to his stat line. However, Harrell's off-ball defense also took a plunge. He had instances where he failed to hedge Phoenix's ball-handlers properly, granting them more space to waltz into jumpers. Still, the Suns didn't have an answer for Harrell when he and James had chemistry going.

Alex Caruso: C+

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Most of Alex Caruso's minutes came in the fourth quarter, where his defensive presence created more offensive possessions for the Lakers. Caruso forced Booker into three turnovers during the 3:10 minutes he defended him, showing he might be key in slowing Booker down in future games. His offensive impact also shined in the final 12 minutes, where he scored the most of his 10 points (one of his 3-pointers came in the final seconds when the game was essentially over), but he missed some good looks that should've went in.

Kyle Kuzma: D

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Kyle Kuzma played 19 minutes, yet it didn't seem like he played any. He went 0-of-2 from the field, going scoreless as he didn't attempt any free throws either. He spent most of the game guarding Cameron Johnson but wasn't at fault for any of the 10 points Johnson scored. Kuzma had three rebounds and an assist to his name, but these aren't the games L.A. needs from him off the bench. He can bring more to the table than this.

Wesley Matthews: C-

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Wesley Matthews made a notable impact off the bench in the play-in game against the Golden State Warriors, but he was relatively quiet in Game 1. Matthews had a fine game defensively, as usual, but couldn't make the most of his chances on offense. He missed all three of his 3-point attempts but made a 2-pointer for two total points in 12 minutes. Matthews shot 33.5% from deep on the year, so he needed one of them to fall to make his usual rate, which would've helped L.A. in this game.

Talen Horton-Tucker: C

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The second-year combo guard received some playoff burn last season in the Orlando Bubble, and head coach Frank Vogel also inserted him in Game 1 for seven minutes. Talen Horton-Tucker went for two points on 1-of-4 shooting, one rebound, one assist and one steal. His only basket came off his trademark contested reverse layup but opted for jumpers on his other misses he usually doesn't attempt. Vogel understandably kept the youngster on a short leash in this one.

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