The Lakers, for the second time this season, used a wild fourth-quarter comeback to pick up a win over the Suns. Friday’s victory carried with it the added bonus of it being the inaugural In-Season Tournament game for the Lakers. All jokes aside, it was a critical win for the purple and gold against one of the other favorites in their group.
Let’s grade the 122-119 win. It was the healthiest the Lakers were on their four-game road trip, but it wasn’t until the fourth quarter that they finally seemed to flip a switch and turn it up a gear. Grades are based on expectations for each player. A “B” grade represents the average performance for that player.
28 minutes, 17 points, 3 rebounds, 3 steals, 5-10 FG, 5-8 3-PT, 2-2 FT +7
It was a shock for basically everyone when head coach Darvin Ham moved Cam Reddish into the starting lineup. Admittedly, I wasn’t a fan of it. I could get behind the idea of moving Reaves out of the starting lineup, but it was harder to rationalize being the guy to take his spot.
But at least for Friday, he shut me up. He started off really well, struggled in the middle of the game and then finished with a flurry. Realistically, you probably couldn’t ask for a better game from him.
36 minutes, 32 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 11-17 FG, 3-4 3-PT, 7-11 FT, +2
What can you say about LeBron that hasn’t already been said at this point? Year 21. Closing in on age 40. And he dominated this game. There aren’t really superlatives anymore.
You could knock a point or two for his defense or efforts on the boards, but if he’s giving you 32-11-6 on 73.3% true shooting, you look past those other parts, especially when grading on the curve of it being the regular season.
36 minutes, 18 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block, 5-14 FG, 8-8 FT, -5
Davis did not look like himself for most of the game. It’s pretty easy to chalk that up to him maybe not being 100% after returning from injury, but even an AD at whatever percentage he was tonight offered enough...barely.
Typically an opponent he has lots of success against, AD struggled against Jusuf Nurkic on both ends. He wasn’t great on the boards, didn’t jump off the page defensively and floated through a lot of the game offensively.
For now, he gets a bit of leeway with his injury.
33 minutes, 7 points, 1 rebound, 2 blocks, 3-8 FG, 0-4 3PT, 1-2 FT, +3
Being matched up with Kevin Durant is a fruitless task defensively. Prince competed well on that end and forced Durant into a number of tough shots. But he’s KD and that didn’t matter.
What I’ve been struck by with Prince early this year is how much more he can do offensively other than being a 3-and-D wing, like attacking the basket as he did late in the game.
29 minutes, 19 points, 9 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 block, 6-12 FG, 0-3 3PT, 7-9 FT, +1
Russell did his part at the beginning of the game to try to help the Lakers get off to a better first quarter. Ten of his 19 points came in the opening frame and he was certainly aggressive.
One area that I give him credit for as well was helping get AD some easier baskets in the third quarter which seemed to really ignite Davis and bring him into the game in the second half.
35 minutes, 15 points, 7 assists, 1 rebound, 1 steal, 6-11 FG, 2-4 3PT, 1-1 FT, -2
While there may have been concern about who moved into the starting lineup in place of Reaves, there wasn’t any concern that Reaves himself would still bring it. You wouldn’t have been able to tell he had been demoted to the bench in the game based on his effort, which is more than you can say about some players.
And so long as he’s fine with losing the label as a starter, he still played 35 minutes and was on the floor to close the game. He got the important minutes on the night, just not the first ones.
18 minutes, 5 points, 9 rebounds, 1 block, 2-5 FG, 1-1 3PT, +8
There weren’t any late-game defensive stops vs. Durant in this one, but Wood still played well. The stats weren’t quite as gaudy as they’ve been at times this year but he was impactful.
20 minutes, 7 points, 4 steals, 3 rebounds, 1 assists, 1 block, 3-6 FG, 1-3 3PT, 0-1 FT, +6
While the scoring wasn’t quite there as much as it was against the Rockets, he was even more impactful on Friday. Hachimura set a new career high with four steals and was a big part of the early fourth-quarter turnaround.
5 minutes, 2 points, 1 rebound, 1-1 FG, -5
The Suns don’t have much size, so it was a bit harder to play a multiple-big lineup. Hayes also didn’t really force the issue and make Ham play him more minutes.
Making a big change like benching Reaves for Reddish is a huge risk. But Ham handled it well and both players responded with big games. He also was able to find a solid combination of players early in the fourth that went on a run.
Friday’s DNPs: Max Christie, Maxwell Lewis
Friday’s inactive: Jalen Hood-Schifino, Jarred Vanderbilt, Gabe Vincent, Colin Castleton, Alex Fudge, D’Moi Hodge
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.