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Players Grades: Lakers vs. Knicks

Assessing every Lakers player’s performance from the team’s 114-109 loss to the Knicks.

New York Knicks v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

The Lakers opened Monday night’s game against the Knicks by raising a banner for the team’s In-Season Tournament title. They followed that up by spending much of the next two hours letting fans down.

A largely lackluster effort up and down the roster dug a hole too deep for the team to escape with their frantic, patented fake comeback late as they fell 114-109. And thus, after beating the Pacers in the IST final nine days ago, the Lakers have dropped three of the four games since their return to regular season play.

There are plenty of viable excuses that could be made. The team is back to battling injuries and, perhaps more relevant to Monday, a non-COVID illness that head coach Darvin Ham alluded to being the flu has made its way through the team, sidelining D’Angelo Russell for a game last week, Ham himself from practice on Sunday and had Christian Wood listed as questionable before the game.

But for equally viable reasons, this was, to me, the most frustrating loss of the season. A bevy of missed shots offensively played into that, as did the team’s general lack of intensity despite being back home and against a Knicks team on the final night of a four-game, West Coast road trip.

How much will that impact the grades tonight? Let’s find out! As always, grades are based on expectations for each player. A “B” grade represents the average performance for that player.

Cam Reddish

27 minutes, 4 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals, 2-9 FG, 0-4 3PT, -6

There is still value in having Cam Reddish as a role player. He’s still an active defender and one of the better ones on the wing.

But over his last nine games, Reddish is now shooting 4-19 from the 3-point line. That’s 21.1%. Pair that with Taurean Prince’s shooting display — and there will be plenty on that to come — and the Lakers just can’t play these two together in the starting lineup.

Grade: D-

LeBron James

39 minutes, 25 points, 11 assists, 11 rebounds, 1 steal, 10-23 FG, 2-8 3PT, 3-4 FT, -13

I think the stat that best represents LeBron tonight is that plus-minus of -13. This was one of the most empty triple-doubles he’s had in some time. He slept-walked through the first half, turned it on a bit to start the third, then led the fake comeback.

There were worse Lakers on the night. But this just did not feel like an impactful LeBron night. And I know I’m saying that with him recording a triple-double.

Grade: C-

Anthony Davis

35 minutes, 32 points, 14 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 14-22 FG, 1-1 3PT, 3-3 FT, -6

On a night when lots of Lakers deserve criticism, AD is not one of them. He was dominant, immediately getting Jericho Sims in foul trouble and then bullying Isaiah Hartenstein the rest of the evening.

If his shot is going to fall like it has over the last week or so, then he truly is basically unstoppable. And boy does his jumper look pretty right now.

Grade: A

Taurean Prince

39 minutes, 9 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block, 3-13 FG, 3-13 3PT, -1

The fact Prince was nearly the team leader in minutes played is insane, but that’s not something he can control. Going 3-13 from the field with every one of those being a 3-pointer? He controls that.

A truly dismal display that should be the final nail in him as a starter. I’m not sure what move you make, whether it’s to insert Jarred Vanderbilt or try Austin Reaves again. But this isn’t sustainable anymore.

Grade: F

D’Angelo Russell

28 minutes, 9 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 3-10 FG, 3-6 3PT, -4

The first half felt like a good D’Lo half, even if he shot 3-9 from the field. Literally all of his stats came in the first half. In the second half, he played 11 minutes, shot the ball once and committed one foul.

How?

If there’s anyone who gets a small pass, it is Russell, who missed Friday’s game with a non-COVID illness. I’ll give him that little pass but this was a really bad showing.

Grade: D+

Austin Reaves

33 minutes, 20 points, 3 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 steal, 6-15 FG, 3-7 3PT, 5-5 FT, +7

This is exactly like LeBron in that I think Reaves’ plus-minus tells the biggest story. On a night when it felt like no one had energy on the team, Reaves — along with AD — brought it from the jump.

He wasn’t efficient necessarily, but players not named Reaves and AD shot 22-62 (35.4%) from the field on Monday. That’s abysmal. Reaves carried as much as he could but no one joined him for the ride most of the evening outside of Davis.

Grade: A-

Rui Hachimura

17 minutes, 8 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals, 3-6 FG, 1-2 3PT, 1-1 FT, -9

In his limited minutes, I thought Rui played well on Monday. He brought some energy and effort the team lacked. The problem is trying to find lineups he works in.

Rui is probably best served playing as a four or, in certain lineups, at the five. With LeBron playing 39 minutes and AD 35, it’s hard to find those minutes consistently. There have been suggestions that he take Prince’s minutes, but Rui can not defend on the perimeter and would have struggled on in that regard against the Knicks.

But the Lakers are paying Rui a lot of money and he showed what he can do in the biggest games last season. Finding ways to get him more minutes, especially for a team struggling to score, should be a focus moving forward.

Grade: B-

Jarred Vanderbilt

14 minutes, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, +3

Vanderbilt’s minutes are pretty clearly capped at about 15 per night. He admitted after the contest that he’s playing through pain and working his way back, evidenced by him aggravating the injury during the game.

He’s pretty clearly an important part of this team that’s also pretty limited right now. He might make the most sense to replace Prince long term but if he’s only going to play 15 minutes a night, is it worth starting him?

Grade: C+

Jaxson Hayes

8 minutes, 2 points, 2 rebounds, 1-1 FG, +4

There isn’t much left to say about Hayes that hasn’t already been said. He’s not been impactful during his recent run and, as our own Alex Regla recently dove into, the Lakers have a gaping hole at backup center because of his poor play.

Grade: D

Darvin Ham

This is a bit two-fold. I walked away from this game more annoyed with the effort the Lakers played with, which is not something you can coach. The team was lethargic most of the night.

At the same time, how does Prince play 39 minutes and attempt 13 shots, all of them 3-pointers? Why is Russell playing 28 minutes and attempting one shot in the second half? Why is Rui only getting 17 minutes in that same game? Why is Max Christie a DNP-CD on tonight of all nights?

I typically try to be fair about single-game rotations because I often think the complaints are overblown. Fans complained about AD sitting too long in the first half, but he still played 36 minutes, which is about right where he should be.

But the aforementioned parts? Those are worthy criticisms tonight.

Grade: C-

Monday’s DNPs: Max Christie, Maxwell Lewis, Christian Wood

Monday’s inactives: Alex Fudge, Jalen Hood-Schifino, Colin Castleton, Gabe Vincent, D’Moi Hodge

You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.

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