Man, what a hammering! Tonight, the Los Angeles Lakers meant business. They did not play around and they did not let Denver back in this game. There are a lot of positive takeaways for both teams and a lot of room for improvement for Denver. The main takeaway though, is the victory for the Lakers.
To the victors go the spoils, so lets start in L.A. LBJ finished with 15 points and 12 assists. Davis was monstrous with 37 and 10. Nothing unexpected from those guys. Let’s go down the line a little bit and talk about some other stand out performances.
Do you like passing? Rondo put on a clinic and the topic was “Assists 101”. Rondo finished the night with 9 assists and 7 points. His passing tonight was spectacular and he made a huge impact on the game when he came in from the bench. It wasn’t just the pretty passing though, Rondo was very active on defense. So was Dwight Howard. His numbers might not jump out at you, but he definitely made his presence felt. KCP poured in 18 points of his own and was one of the top 3 scorers for L.A.
There is a lot to like about game 1 for L.A. They dominated in transition and fast break points. They had the higher shooting percentage, both overall and from long range. More assists, blocks and steals. Surprisingly, they didn’t have the rebound advantage, but there wasn’t a lot of difference. Lakers had 37 free throws but only connected on 27. It’s a wasted opportunity anytime you are leaving 10 points on the table, so hopefully that improves. Defensively, the Lakers played probably half of the game really well and the other other half not so much. That’s to be expected in garbage time, but they also allowed 38 points in the first quarter. I think remaining engaged defensively for the entire 48 minutes should be their focus moving forward.
So what happened to Denver? They looked pretty good early on, at least offensively. Honestly, a lot went wrong for the Nuggets. The obvious one for me, was their defense. Especially in transition. It’s going to take a better defensive performance than that. At the very least, more effort in getting back. Speaking of defense, do it with your feet, not your hands or body. The foul discrepancy in the second quarter was huge. Luckily, L.A. didn’t capitalise on all of them or it would of been over at half time. A lot of it is pretty obvious. Turnovers, poor 3 point shooting, ball movement, players not moving off the ball etc etc. Let’s take a closer look at some of the players.
Jokic. He looked dominant in the first quarter. I was convinced he was going to finish with a triple/double and then some. I’m still convinced he would of. If he managed to play without fouling. Honestly, he should of fouled out in the third but the referees went easy on him. I don’t think the Lakers had an answer for him or would of been unable to take him out of the game, if not for his foul trouble. He looked to be able to score at will, it didn’t matter who was on him. I said yesterday that only two things could take Jokic out of the game : his attitude or foul trouble. Tonight, it was the latter.
Jamal Murray was another player who could of had a great game, had he not gotten himself into foul trouble in the first half. Murray was shooting the ball around 70% at one stage, and he finished the night shooting 58%. That’s pretty good, but it doesn’t help when you are on the bench.
If you look at the box score, you might be tempted to praise Michael Porter Jr. It took a long time for him to get his first field goal though and he shot at a pretty awful percentage, especially from long range. At the end of the day though, everyone for Denver needed to be better.
I don’t want to take anything away from L.A. They were dominant and they took nothing for granted. That’s the way you need to play at this stage of the competition. It’s promising for Denver that they messed up so much, they at least have things to work on and can still give themselves a chance in this series. As it stands though, Lakers had a dominant 126-114 victory and lead the series 1-0.