The Los Angeles Lakers started their annual Grammy road trip last week with stops in nation’s capitol and Boston. They were close in both of those games but came up just short as they could not score when they needed it most. Most importantly, they seemed to regain their never-give-up mentality. They were down double digits in both games but found ways to battle back and give themselves a chance to win.
Before they departed for their road trip, they picked up a 120-116 win against the Denver Nuggets. They had five players finish in double figures to help secure the win. They are going to need to play more games like this to be successful.
Here’s what’s trending up and trending down for the Lakers.
Black has done an incredible job during his time on the court. He started all three games last week as Julius Randle battled pneumonia. His best game was against the Wizards when he finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds. He provides high energy, and he hustles on both ends of the floor. If he keeps up his play, Luke Walton might want to keep him the starting lineup moving forward.
Russell enjoyed himself a nice week. In the three games last week he had 22, 20, and 17 points. It’s no secret when he is playing well; the Lakers become a more competitive team. The best part about his play is that he secured his first career back-to-back double-digit assist games. He had ten against the Nuggets and 11 against the Wizards. By him getting his teammates involved, he makes the opposing team stay honest to their defensive assignments, which gives him more room to operate.
The Lakers showed some tremendous heart in their games last week. They did not fold during crucial points in the game. Although they lost both road games, they easily could have gotten blown out because they trailed by double digits in each game. Instead, they fought back and gave themselves a chance to come away with wins. This type of play builds character that will help them in the long run.
Clarkson continues to struggle. Besides his 20-point outing versus the Wizards, he had eight points combined in the other two games. He’s too good of a player to have those types of performances. It also doesn’t help that he continues to turn the ball over. He had three against the Nuggets and one against the Celtics. If he continues to struggle, Walton might want to think of another player who can go in and produce.
Defensive play against guards has been not good. John Wall and Isaiah Thomas had great games against the Lakers. Wall finished 33 points and 11 assists while Thomas finished with 38 points. The Lakers are a young team, but there is no reason for them to let opposing guards have their way with them. They should have the energy to keep up and play a full 48 minutes.