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Laker Film Room: Make ‘em dance, Lance!

Lance Stephenson was the spark off of the bench that the Lakers needed in back-to-back wins.

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NBA: Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Lakers Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

I hated the Lance Stephenson signing. On the heels of landing LeBron James and Rajon Rondo’s acquisition the following day, I thought the last thing that the Lakers needed was an inefficient scorer who needed the ball in his hands and couldn’t spot-up particularly well.

Five games into the season, Lance is balling out and proving me wrong. The Lakers are built on the principles of pace and relentless assault on the rim, and he’s providing a different dimension to that as the one Lakers guard who can attack the basket out of ball screens.

The 2017-18 Indiana Pacers finished 23rd in the NBA in pace, allowing more opportunities for Lance to dribble himself into trouble. While he’ll still have the occasional adventure in that respect, he’s toned it down at Luke Walton’s behest and has been much more decisive with the ball in his hands.

Let’s take a closer look at the fantastic back-to-back that Lance put together over the last two nights.

Stephenson is averaging career-highs in almost every efficiency category and one-number analytic at the beginning of this season, but his timing has been impeccable, and that’s more difficult to quantify. He sparked a dominant second quarter with eight quick points, and then catalyzed a floundering Lakers offense with consecutive threes and a drive to the basket to key a fourth-quarter comeback against the Denver Nuggets.

Walton recognizes that Lance’s shake is beneficial to a team that lacks guards who can get their own shot on a regular basis. There’s no “purity of the game” nonsense here, you need a guy like that on your team. If Lance can continue to do so with the concise purpose that the Lakers’ pace demands, I’ll happily continue to marinate in my wrongness.

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