Lakers basketball made its return on Monday night against the Golden State Warriors. Needing every win as we enter the final stretch of games, the Lakers wasted no time stacking victories beating the Warriors 124-111.
With LeBron James scoring just 13 points on the night and Anthony Davis still a bit lacking offensively (he ended the night with 12), it was the role players that helped secure the game.
Malik Beasley was a three-point sniper, scoring 25 points (including 7 threes). Austin Reaves didn’t just do the small things to win; he was a perfect scorer going 6-6 from the field and 4-4 from the free-throw line while leading the bench with 17 points in his 19 minutes of play.
L.A. has won two in a row and improved to 28-32 on the season as the Warriors fell under .500.
The only negative of the night was D’Angelo Russell’s sprained ankle, which took him out of the game in the first half. Early indicators are that there is no structural damage and with two days off until their next matchup, perhaps D-Lo will be back on Sunday like he never left.
Darvin Ham confirmed he was running it back with the same startling lineup the Lakers used in their last game against the Pelicans, giving the Lakers consistency from the start. With an NBA-leading 30 different starting lineups, that’s been a rarity for the purple & gold this year.
LeBron got off to a very slow start; the NBA's all-time leading scorer did not score a point until the closing seconds of the first. L.A. maintained the narrow lead throughout the opening quarter but struggled to maintain possession, turning the ball over six times. Luckily their pace was far faster than Golden State’s, which led to 12 fast break points and an eight-point advantage after one.
There were plenty of positives for the Lakers in the first half, but the main thing to watch is Russell’s injury. Late in the first, he rolled his ankle and was ruled out for the rest of the game. Hopefully that was just a precaution, but it’s also obviously a concern.
The Warriors made a run with Jordan Poole catching fire as Golden State shrunk the Lakers' lead down to three points at the half. And earlier in the season, an injury to a starter and bad close to the first half would’ve been enough to guarantee a loss.
Not these Lakers, though.
They came out with a blistering start to the third, outscoring the Warriors 20-7 off the bat. Reaves continued to pick up his production and was productive offensively all night.
Anthony Davis still looks pedestrian on offense, but even so, he managed a double-double to help L.A. maintain a double-digit lead.
The new-look Lakers’ last game before the All-Star break: 18-point win over the No. 8 Pelicans.— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) February 24, 2023
The new-look Lakers’ first game after the All-Star break: 20-point 4th Q lead over the No. 9 Warriors.
The L.A. lead ballooned to 20 points early in the fourth and with the Warriors having another game tomorrow, the final quarter was a snore. LeBron was done for the night at the 8:06 mark, and LeBron missing the final eight minutes of a game the Lakers win is great news for the team. It demonstrates how necessary those trade deadline acquisitions have been.
As we enter March, it’s about surviving and advancing for the Lakeshow. Get the wins now and figure out the rest later. They got the win; now they need to figure out the rest. Is D-Lo okay? If not, who will Ham start? What does that do to the depth of the roster? Decisions like these will define the rookie coach’s first year and the Lakers’ chances of reaching that sixth seed they’ve talked about so much. Maybe Russell will be okay and play in Sunday’s matinee against the Dallas Mavericks, but decisions like this will continue to rest on Ham’s shoulders. Hopefully, he can carry it.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.