Following a disappointing loss in their regular season opener against the LA Clippers on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Lakers responded with a statement 95-86 win over the Utah Jazz in their home opener on Friday.
The Lakers were in control in the first half — leading the Jazz 43-37 after two quarters — but they didn’t start pulling away until the third quarter, when head coach Frank Vogel put in Alex Caruso for the first time this season.
Caruso looked rusty to start, turning the ball over twice upon entering the game, but he looked like the player Lakers fans saw towards the tail end of last season as the game went on. While he only scored one basket in two attempts, he was active on the defensive end and looked comfortable being the secondary ball-handler the Lakers need to move James off the ball.
With the number of guards the Lakers have on the roster, not everyone can play, but Caruso showed why he deserves to be a staple in the rotation on Friday. We’ll see Vogel handles his minutes when Rajon Rondo returns.
Another pleasant surprise in the third quarter was seeing Anthony Davis at center. For someone that doesn’t like to play the 5, he’s awfully good at it. Vogel will likely continue to limit Davis’s time at center in an effort to keep the impending superstar free agent happy in the regular season, but when the postseason rolls around, there’s no reason Davis should spend much time at the 5.
Davis ended the night with 21 points, 7 rebounds, 5 blocks and 2 steals.
Of course, the Lakers have another All-Star forward on their team who is really good at basketball, and his name is LeBron James. James ended the night with a game-high 32 points to go along with 10 assists and 1 turnover. He also contributed seven rebounds.
James and Davis were underwhelming in the Lakers’ regular season opener on Tuesday — particularly in the fourth quarter — so it was nice to see a glimpse of what they look like when they’re in sync on Friday.
The Lakers will return to action on Sunday to take on the Charlotte Hornets.