A night that started with the retirement of George Mikan’s jersey, a reminder of the greatness that the Lakers players have achieved historically, ended with the first win of the season, with LA beating Denver 121-110.
To start, it was another game, another poor shooting night for Los Angeles as they started the first with more poor shooting. Multiple missed open layups led to easy transition baskets for Denver. By the end of the first, the deficit was five points. A positive note was Anthony Davis’ ability to play. He missed the previous game with lower back soreness, and he was rolling from the jump. He had 11 points and was a perfect 5-of-5 from the field in the first.
Just beautiful penetration and finish from Russ. pic.twitter.com/WvSoyXRtON— Edwin Garcia (@ECreates88) October 31, 2022
In the second quarter, the Lakers offense showed signs of life. Russell Westbrook was shaking and baking and looking like the super sub Darvin Ham waxed poetically about all offseason, and the team continued to attack the paint and earn nearly half their points from inside. LeBron was still struggling, going 4-of-11 from the field, but the Lakers still were up at the half.
Being 0-5 means you don’t win, and you likely don’t do much well. One aspect the Lakers have struggled with is coming out sharp in the third. Prior to Sunday’s game, they had lost every third quarter.
LeBron did everything he could to change that stat. He started the quarter scoring back-to-back field goals, and midway through the third, he was the game’s leading scorer despite the rough first half he had. Only LeBron can look bad during a game, and then, when you look at the numbers, he’s at the top of the team’s production. Then Lonnie Walker caught fire, and the Lakers took the quarter by storm. They ended the third on a 13-0 run and were up by eight going into the third, which was also their biggest lead of the season.
An eight-point lead is nice, but no lead is safe in the NBA. The fourth period was a back-and-forth affair, with Denver making runs and Los Angeles responding at every moment. The Lakers finally closed the game out and never let Denver get any closer than five. All the key pieces produced enough on Sunday. LeBron had 26 points, Anthony Davis had a double-double of 23 points and 15 rebounds, Russ had 16 on 6-of-12 shooting, and Lonnie Walker’s 3-of-5 shooting from three was too much for Denver to overcome. It was just one game, but the win was much needed.
For the purple and gold, Murphy’s law was in full effect during the month of October. If AD was in, Russ was out; if Russ was in, AD was out. If both were in, Russ largely played badly. The defense was good, but the shooting was awful. Steals were league-leading, but they were getting thoroughly out-rebounded night in and night out. At 1-5, the Lakers have a lot of work to do to get back on track, but for one Sunday night, there were signs that there is a good team somewhere within this roster.