The Los Angeles Lakers were missing Lonzo Ball, LeBron James, Brandon Ingram, Lance Stephenson and Jost Hart. JaVale McGee got into foul trouble early. Rajon Rondo played more than Alex Caruso. The whole team was on the second night of a back-to-back in which they didn’t get to their hotel until 3:30 a.m.
The ensuing game agains the Detroit Pistons went about as well as you’d expect: The Lakers lost 111-97.
Yes, the Lakers competed and sure, the Pistons are exactly what pops into your head when you picture a thoroughly mediocre Eastern Conference team, but at the end of the day, talent wins out. Add to that the difference in coaching abilities between Dwane Casey and Luke Walton, and it’s shocking the Lakers were ever in it.
Anytime they did fight their way back into contention, though, Walton brought Rondo back into the game and that just about did that. Rondo really is challenging Byron Scott for the all-time tank commander spot in Lakers history. Just need him to yell at a couple kids and they’ll be neck and neck.
This game wasn’t without bright spots for the Lakers, though.
Kyle Kuzma set a career high with 10 assists in the trip back to his home state. This obviously won’t be something the Lakers need much of whenever they have all their guys available, but it would be a very welcomed skillset as a tertiary creator in what we hope will be a revamped offense under a new head coach next season.
Caruso continued his recent strong play on Friday night, though in order for him to make a positive impact, he merely doesn’t have to be Rajon Rondo. He’s very good at that, a talent he worked on all of last season when his job was to not be Tyler Ennis. He deserves an honest shot in the NBA, based on what we’ve seen from him the last two seasons.
The Lakers will have a day off and then take on the Knicks in New York on Sunday. Tip-off for that game will be early — 9 a.m. pacific time. We won’t blame you if you don’t wake up in time.