Last season, the Lakers’ eighth win didn’t come until Nov. 30 and the first time they were two games above .500 was on April 2, or the fifth-to-last game of the season. Outpacing the Lakers of last season, though, probably shouldn’t be a goal.
Ultimately, they’re getting wins while figuring things out, which is better than the alternative.
Let’s grade the win. Grades are based on expectations for each player. A “B” grade represents the average performance for that player.
39 minutes, 7 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 3-9 FG, 1-5 3PT, +13
The offensive production has fallen off the last couple of games, but he’s still bringing it on the defensive end. The three steals on Sunday is becoming something of a regularity for him early in the year, which is thoroughly impressive.
But he was also a big part of the Lakers’ 3-point shooting woes and until he can find consistency there, his spot in the starting lineup will have some questions. Sunday was also one of the first times it looked like he was starting to play outside his role at times.
40 minutes, 37 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, 14-19 FG, 2-5 3PT, 7-9 FT, +2
Calling what LeBron is doing unprecedented is both accurate and also something that feels like an understatement. Remarkable. Astounding. Logic-defying. Whatever superlative you want to use, it fits.
There’s worries about his minutes. There’s worries about his injury, which he got work on briefly during the first half. But on nights like Sunday, it’s hard not to sit back and marvel because there’s only a finite number of these performances left.
33 minutes, 27 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 11-15 FG, 5-7 FT, -8
The Lakers leaned heavily on AD at times in this game. They played through him in the post early, then really played through him in the third quarter, a period in which they got back into the game and into the lead.
Notably, though, AD had foul trouble for a second-straight game. I’m willing to give him a bit of a break in this one because Alperen Sengun was...embellishing a lot of those.
24 minutes, 2 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1-11 FG, 0-4 3PT, 0-1 FT, -6
I’ll take the blame on this one. One game after I credited Taurean for not having loud bad games, he had a very loud bad game.
In his last eight games, Taurean Prince, including tonight, is now 6-31 (19.3%) from three. That's not quite the 40% he vowed to shoot— Jacob Rude (@JacobRude) November 20, 2023
Prince still brings something on the defensive end, but there’s got to be some questions asked about whether he should remain in the lineup. And if Jarred Vanderbilt is set to return, his spot could be in even more peril.
25 minutes, 4 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists, 1-8 FG, 1-5 3PT, 1-2 FT, -7
After a run of impressive games, D’Lo had a pretty lackluster one, to say the least. It didn’t help that it came on a night when so many others did.
He did still find ways to contribute in other areas, but that very much did not overcome his offensive woes.
32 minutes, 11 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 4-10 FG, 0-4 3PT, 3-4 FT, -2
There were times when Rui really punished mismatches. He also had a couple of really nice entry passes to AD. But the fact you can individually pick out his good plays probably isn’t great.
In theory, Rui could be the person to replace Prince in the lineup. But the two don’t have similar skill sets and Rui struggles quite a bit defensively, which would necessitate an entire change to how the team operates defensively.
It’s more likely Rui maintains his role off the bench and Vando eventually supplants Prince. Nights like Sunday aren’t a great help for Rui’s case as a starter.
18 minutes, 2 rebounds, 0-4 FG, 0-3 3PT, +8
Wood continues to really struggle to find any sort of consistent offense nightly. That’s probably down the list of priorities for the Lakers, but it’s leading to more and more nights like Sunday where Wood just kind of floats.
25 minutes, 17 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 5-7 FG, 2-3 3PT, 5-6 FT, +9
After playing a season-low in minutes on Sunday, Austin Reaves bounced back in a huge way. The turnovers were down, the shot-making was up and he buried one of the biggest shots of the night.
Postgame, he said it didn’t bother him to be on the bench against the Blazers because they got the win. This man just always knows the right thing to say.
5 minutes, 2 rebounds, -4
While there’s some questions about why he wasn’t in the game at the end — more on that shortly — the fact he wasn’t probably doesn’t spell good things for him right now. The Rockets are a smaller team which probably explains his low minutes, but Hayes isn’t consistently making a positive impact either.
The positive: Ham pushed the right buttons and went to AD a lot in the third and found success.
The negatives: Not putting Hayes in, despite his inconsistencies and shortcomings, on the Rockets' final possession when everyone knew that the ball was going to Sengun raised eyebrows.
Friday’s inactive: Jalen Hood-Schifino, Jarred Vanderbilt, Gabe Vincent, Colin Castleton. D’Moi Hodge, Alex Fudge
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.