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As the Los Angeles Lakers wrapped up a quick four-game road trip in New Orleans against the Pelicans, the story was Anthony Davis playing in Smoothie King Arena for the first time while not being a member of the home team. L.A. sleepwalked through most of the game, but still are the vastly more talented team, and showed it in the fourth quarter as the Lakers won their ninth straight, 114-110 after (essentially) a game-winning steal and some clutch free throws from Davis.
Offensively, this game felt a lot like the Lakers’ opening night loss to the Clippers, when they force-fed the post far too often and it took them out of the rhythm. This strategy led to a huge night from Davis — who finished with 41 points and 9 boards — but the offense looked stagnant far too often. When the Lakers got back into the game, it was because the ball started moving and New Orleans wasn’t able to keep up with the various options the Lakers’ sets were creating.
Defensively, well, it seemed like New Orleans was incapable of missing jumpers — especially from deep in the first half. They fell back to earth in the second, which, combined with more efficient offense being run by the Lakers, allowed L.A. to make a game of it and finally take a late lead as they completed their comeback.
Despite the win, one thing still bears noting: Rajon Rondo was a disaster. That’s it. That’s the tweet.
Alex Caruso was the opposite of that, finish an astounding +23 in 25 minutes, despite taking (and making) just one shot.
LeBron James to @LakersReporter on Alex Caruso:
“He gives us everything. He gives us a steady ballhandler, he gives us a defensive presence, he gives us basketball IQ and toughness. And we need everything from that.”
— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) November 28, 2019
It also turns out that having LeBron James on your team greatly improves your margin for error. He made history once again Wednesday night, becoming the fourth player in NBA history to reach 33,000 career points. He’s incredible, and finished with 29 points and 11 assists.
L.A. has been playing with fire to a maddening extent during this nine-game winning streak, but it didn’t cost them Wednesday night. If they don’t clean this stuff up though, it will bite them as the schedule gets tougher next month.
The Lakers will have Thanksgiving off and resume action on Friday at home against the Washington Wizards. Tipoff for that game will be 7:30 p.m. PST.
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