LOS ANGELES — Three Things is NBC’s wrap-up of five days of the night prior to the NBA. Go to NBCSports.com every Monday morning to see the events that you didn’t see the night before, as well as the gossip of drama, dunks and drama making the NBA worth watching.
1.) Westbrook goes 0-of-11 highlighting Lakers continuing shooting problems
There was some reason for optimism in Lakers nation following Thursday’s game against Clippers the defense enhanced as well as more aggressive leading to the 22 Clippers turnovers as well as Lakers baskets for transition (22.3 percent of Lakers possessions were in transition, which is an impressive amount). On the team culture front this game, the Lakers were a force to be reckoned with and came from double-digits in the first half twice to help the Clippers take the win.
“I’m extremely satisfied with our players They played well,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham stated. “I believe we’ve seen a lot of improvement between Game 1 until Game 2 particularly on the defensive end…
“We’re heading toward the positive direction.”
All that happens is because the Lakers cannot shoot.
That’s the reason the Lakers were 0-2 for the season following an 83-97 loss in the Clippers (although it’s fair the Lakers suffered losses to two teams that were projected as likely to make Finals in the Western Conference Finals).
Russell Westbrook was the poster child of the Lakers shooting failure, going to 0-of-11 in the game and 0-of-6 in 3. When Westbrook stood for a shot, the Lakers home crowd at the crypto.com Arena audibly groaned. It was awful. LeBron James’ only suggestion to Westbrook was to “flush it out to the bathroom” and then move on. the truth is, Westbrook is not going to shoot this way each night.
It was not only Westbrook The Lakers shot 35.1 percent in the overall game and shot 9-for-45 (20 percent) from three. In spite of the positive things the Lakers were able to accomplish during the game (it was a more successful outing than their opening night) the shooting of their team stopped their momentum at the knees. Check out the Lakers shot charts for the game.
There were some bright areas to Lakers fans. Lonnie Walker IV played very aggressive and was the leader of in scoring for the Lakers in scoring with the 26-point lead (9-of-21 shooting). Anthony Davis had another strong game , scoring 25 points and eight rebounds. Davis along with LeBron performed some high-low movements that resulted in some good shots. (Davis injured his back during the third quarter following an unintentionally fall on the ground and was able to leave the game and stretched his back the rest of the night, but he said after the game, “I’ll be alright.”) The Lakers defense was better , and they kept the Clippers to less than one point per game.
LeBron scored 20 points, as well as a dunk with a turn-back-the clock.
The Lakers played defense, they were stopped and went out in transition, they ran against the Clippers and even gained the lead during the 4th. However, the Clippers were bigger, deeper and played longer periods of time.
Ham is correct Ham is right, the Lakers appeared better on this evening than they had a couple of nights prior. They displayed some determination.
If they don’t start knocking off shots irrelevant.
2.) Kawhi Leonard, John Wall return to court
Kawhi Leonard plays the Clippers 11th man.
It was at least Thursday, and it was not his turn to play until after 6:25 during the 2nd quarter. It was an interminable wait to be back following 493 days after his last participated at the NBA game.
“I think it was long , but I had to wait for 82 games in the last season, so 15 minutes, will not be that time-consuming,” Leonard said. “But I’ve been there prior to this, this was how I began my career. So, it’s the way I thought about it.”
Leonard entered the game and immediately sank two midrange jumpers that jumped over opponents, forcing to the Lakers to call a timeout. The lengthy wait at the beginning in the contest was planned and made it easier for Leonard to remain warm during his remaining 20 minutes throughout, Leonard said. Although there was some rust, Leonard was able to get his points and scored 14 points from 7-of-12 shooting and seven rebound.
The team was comprised of an overall Clippers attack. Five players had 14 or more points and none had more than that.
John Wall, playing his first game in more than the course of a season, was among of those who scored 15. He started the game pushing the pace, and hit two midrange jumpers by himself and was a great connecter for the Clippers during the transition.
Wall made intelligent decisions using the ball, finding Leonard for the 3 on one play, and being patient, and locating a cutting Ivica Zubac in another.
It was all the result of Clippers’ depth, which wore down the Lakers down. It was not the Clippers most efficient shooting performance (9-of-29 from three as the team 31 percent) However, they were more solid and larger overall than the Lakers which led to good defense. The the variety of scoring options became too difficult for the Lakers to contain when it mattered.
It’s a long season, and the Clippers are slowly easing Leonard as well as Wall on their way back to action. The depth of their team, which the Lakers were unable to compete with, is what lets the Clippers succeed and beat the Lakers in games. Similar to the one on Thursday night.
3.) James Harden is putting up some numbers, but the 0-2 76ers still have work to complete.
The best part for Philadelphia? James Harden is in shape and scoring numbers: 31 points as well as nine assists, and eight rebounds in a game against one of the most defense teams of the NBA: the Bucks. This comes on the heels of an opening game of the season that was 35/8/7.
The bad news is that the Sixers are 0-2, as Harden is dominating the ball, but Harden along with Joel Embiid are still trying to establish a rhythm.
The 76ers had a chance of getting a win on Thursday, but they were unable to beat an undermanned Bucks squad (Khris Middleton is still missing and is not playing). A P.J. Tucker free shot made the Sixers ahead at 88-86 with 32.7 seconds left. However, Wesley Matthews answered with a 3-pointer that ended the game for Milwaukee.
The Brook Lopez free throw gave us the final score of 90-88.
Philly performed admirably on Giannis Antetokounmpo. However, he did not score 21 points or 13 rebounds, and was close to an all-time triple-double. Lopez added 17 for Milwaukee.
The 76ers ‘ offense currently has too much Harden hitting the ball and seeking out chances to strike — it appears more like the Heliocentric Rockets offenses which Harden was the leader of than what Doc Rivers wants. The stats flashed on the TNT broadcast TNT summarized the situation: Harden dribbled the ball 525 times in the first game against the Celtics and the rest of the team was 411.
Milwaukee’s defense strategy was to allow Embiid shoot any shot he wanted, but not in the rim. This made him a more jump shooter. He was 5-of-18 with 2-pointers. Harden must discover a way to give Embiid to the rock more often in areas where he will excel.
The Sixers had a tough time when they returned to their bench. They only scored 13 points and DeAnthony Melton scored nine of them. If the bench is off the court the 76ers have been experiencing periods of scoring in which they have not scored. A different issue is that the 76ers have been outscored 18 , in third quarter in two games.
The plan was be a an uphill climb (so to say) to bring Embiid, Harden, and Tyrese Maxey all at their best (both Embiid and Maxey had 15 points in the game against Milwaukee Bucks). The challenge of facing Boston and Milwaukee in the first game of the season is not an easy way to establish a young team.
The bar is set -The Bucks along with the Celtics have been among the Eastern Conference favorites. If the 76ers hope to get to the NBA Finals, those are the teams they must be able to beat in May.