We've talked all summer about how there is a very real possibility that the Los Angeles Lakers will not be very good this season, that they will lose a lot of games. We've talked about the importance of simply enjoying the journey that is the NBA season, taking pleasure in the lack of pressure that comes along with low expectations. Last night, we were dealt the first test to our resolve. The Lakers got trounced by the Golden State Warriors and all the magic of the opening night victory disappeared in a puff of smoke.
Jodie Meeks - The only player who really played well, Meeks kept the Lakers within sight of the Warriors for most of the first half. He hit his second layup in traffic in as many nights, shot 50% from the floor, and got 6 FT attempts to share the team lead in scoring on the night (with just 14 points). Meeks looked awful in preseason, and before he played a role in the 4th quarter of the Clippers game, I had not seen anything from him that justified his minutes. Well, now I have. He remains an inconsistent player, prone to bouts of cold shooting and ineffective play, but when he's on, he can definitely provide a spark.
Xavier Henry's aggressiveness - There were more effective offensive players than Henry on the night (both Pau Gasol and Chris Kaman were effective down low), but credit to Xavier for pushing through on a rough night and remaining aggressive. He was destroyed in the first three quarters by, of all people, Jermaine O'Neal, who took something like three charges from Henry, blocked his shot once and altered another. But X kept at it, and he ended up as the other Laker with 14 points (meaning he has led or tied for team high in scoring in both of the first two contests). When the shots aren't falling, Henry's willingness and ability to attack the basket and get to the rim is an important tool to have in the toolbox.
Klay Thompson - I don't care if he plays for the other team, when a dude plays that well, respect must be paid. Thompson was incredible on the night, with 38 points on 19 shots. With one more made three, Klay would have had a forty point night and an eFG of 100%. The Lakers defense on Klay was awful, but when you have a trigger as quick as his, it doesn't really matter all that much. I swear, he was already jumping before the ball touched his hands on some of those shots. Just a joy to behold, even if he was wearing the wrong uniform
Nick Young - Swaggy P has been all swag, no substance since the start of the season. His shot selection was awful tonight, but then his shot selection is always awful. What makes him so great is that a fair number of his awful shots go in (roughly 43% for his career), and he is incredibly entertaining when they do. Well, sadly, the shots have not been falling for him this season, at all. He's hitting just 26% so far on the year, and no amount of swag is worth that conversion rate.
Team Shooting - There weren't really any standout poor performances to highlight individually. Not because nobody was poor, but because everybody was. The team as a whole shot 40% from the field, and besides the guys who only had one or two attempts, everybody was within a one make or miss margin of error of that total. Just a bad night for everybody.
Defense - We knew the defense would be a struggle this year, and tonight was our first real reminder. The Lakers gave up 125 points and that includes a 4th quarter which consisted entirely of garbage time and a first quarter in which the W's missed a ton of open looks. It was a fast paced game (roughly 103 possessions), but still, 125 is a whole lotta points to give up