Upon a 1-3 start to the Grammy road trip, the Los Angeles Lakers had one final stop at the BMO Harris Bradley Center before returning home. The team had a chance to salvage their trip and fully took advantage of it, with a focused and determined start to the contest. The Lakers used runs of 15-6 and 7-0 in the first quarter to break out for the early lead, with hot shooting and constant ball rotations to find their open teammates.
The unselfishness on the court was a sight to see, as a small glimpse into what the future could hold for this young core and their teammates. This young Lakers team clearly responded to Walton’s message before the game, as he called out his team in order for them to put in a better overall effort.
Forward Larry Nance Jr. had another great all-around game, as he has shown signs of progress since returning his injury. When asked about the hot start for the Lakers, Nance Jr. stated he was pleased with how trust led to such a big lead, via the Los Angeles Lakers Twitter account:
Larry Nance Jr. on the Lakers' hot first-half offense: “We were sharing it, trusting each other. It was just beautiful basketball."
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 11, 2017
All in all, the Lakers finished the first half by shooting 69.2 percent from the field (27-for-39). Although the team was knocking down their shots, it is important to note that they weren’t results of isolation basketball. Five Lakers had multiple assists with more than nine minutes remaining in the second quarter.
Nance Jr. finished the contest with 11 points, five rebounds, three assists and one steal. The 24-year-old was a key figure in the pick-and-roll scenarios, as his flashing ability off the pick is exactly what Walton wants.
Of the big men on the team, Nance Jr. has the highest basketball IQ and tends to make the right decisions when it comes to setting up his teammates and finding the open man. This contest against the Bucks not only showed how hot the Lakers can get, but also showed a sneak peak at the kind of excitement the players have when they trust their teammates.
After the contest, Nance Jr. stated that the team was returning home a better team than they left with, a shoutout to the hard work and constant experience the team is gaining.
Although Walton’s group outscored the Bucks 76-55 in the first half, the Bucks wouldn’t just give up. With the home crowd behind them, they were able to cut the deficit down to five points during the fourth quarter, but the Lakers held on for a 122-114 victory.