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Players Grades: Lakers vs. Nets

Assessing every Lakers player’s performance from the team’s 130-112 loss to the Nets.

Brooklyn Nets v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Tyler Ross/NBAE via Getty Images

How’s that for the new worst loss of the season?

The Lakers have set a remarkably high bar year for frustrating defeats, but Friday’s certainly eclipsed that in the most unexpected way possible.

After one of their best offensive halves of the year, the Lakers led at the half. And really, the Nets relied heavily on Cam Thomas to keep them even remotely alive in that half or else this game would have been a blowout.

Then, the Lakers came out with nearly objectively their worst half of the season in response and got run off the floor. It was annoying, embarrassing, whatever you want to call it.

To me, what it was is a team that carries itself with more bravado than they’ve earned. This is a team now below .500 that acts like it’s the team that went to the Western Conference Finals and not the one outside the play-in game.

At some point, they’ll need to realize that. Preferably before you’re forced into months-straight win-now games to save your season, but it might be too late for that, even.

As you can probably tell, these grades are going to have a certain tone to them.

So, let’s grade the loss. As always, grades are based on expectations for each player. A “B” grade represents the average performance for that player.

Taurean Prince

29 minute 10 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 3-7 FG, 2-4 3PT, 2-2 FT, -12

I don’t really think about any Lakers played well tonight after the first half. Prince struggled defensively as much as any of them. He’ll probably get more blame than any of the others but it’s not a debate I really care to have anymore.

I will say it’s probably time to go to Jarred Vanderbilt in his spot with him looking completely and totally back. But that feels like such a small issue tonight.

Grade: F

LeBron James

34 minutes, 24 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 9-22 FG, 2-5 3PT, 4-5 FT, -13

I’m not really sure if this is a hot take tonight, but this was one of LeBron’s worst games as a Laker. He had a red-hot stretch in the second quarter and outside of that, he was not good.

In the second half specifically, his body language was truly awful. He was handing grenades to players and throwing his hands up in the air when the shot didn’t go in. He was missing layups and complaining to officials instead of getting back.

And the defense was as bad as it’s ever been. I don’t expect LeBron to be locked in on that end every night but there has to be some give and take and Friday was entirely on one end of that spectrum. He wasn’t closing out, he was letting guys drive by him, he was stuck in no man’s land a lot; not close enough to contest a jumper and not close enough to contest for rebounds.

I thought back tonight to the story from two years ago when a report came out that the team did not like LeBron’s poor body language. I also thought back to when Rajon Rondo called him out for that very thing. This team badly needs a Rondo-like figure right now.

Grade: F

Anthony Davis

35 minutes, 26 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks, 9-13 FG, 0-1 3PT, 8-11 FT, -12

As has often been the case this season, the only Laker who played like he gave a damn. He had it going all night offensively. Frustratingly, he was one of a number of Lakers who missed point-blank layups on the night but, even then, AD was as advertised.

Defensively, I felt for him. The Lakers were just letting everyone by them and hoping AD could stop them. What happened was him getting there too late, a drop-off pass to Nic Claxton or Davis contesting the original shot and Claxton cleaning it up.

Grade: B+

Austin Reaves

33 minutes, 9 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 4-12 FG, 0-6 3PT, 1-1 FT, -13

Austin’s offensive showing was bad enough to warrant a pretty low grade on the night. He’s in another shooting slump from range and it’s getting really bad. Over his last 11 games, Reaves is shooting 22.7% from the 3-point line on 44 attempts. Impressively, he’s still shooting 51.4% from the field in that span because he’s 46-65 (70.7%) on 2-pointers.

Back to Friday’s game, though, where Reaves parlayed his offensive struggles with his defensive ones as well. On top of being typically bad in keeping guys in front of him, he added a couple of fouls on 3-pointers as well.

Truly, one of his worst games as a Laker as well.

Grade: F

D’Angelo Russell

35 minutes, 20 points, 1 rebound, 7 assists, 1 steal, 7-14 FG, 3-5 3PT, 3-3 FT, -16

Statistically, D’Lo looks like he had a pretty solid night. And to a certain extent, he deserves credit for that. He knocked down shots, was efficient and set up teammates. Those are the things you seek from him.

But 16 of those points came in the first half, he was 1-4 from the field in the second half and had more fouls than assists while finishing a -19. It’s probably unfair to fully discredit the first half for his second half showing but I’m annoyed and no one is escaping this tonight.

Grade: F

Jarred Vanderbilt

19 minutes, 12 points, 5 rebounds, 5-5 FG, 2-2 3PT, -10

Ironically, this was probably Vando’s best game of the season. He finished at the rim, he knocked down 3-pointers, he hustled. He did what was asked. But he’s only one man and also only played 19 minutes, which was bizarre given how bad the Lakers were doing defensively.

Grade: B+

Max Christie

19 minutes, 6 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assists, 2-3 FG, 2-3 3PT, -6

The most damning part for Cam Reddish of late is that no one has noticed he’s gone, partially because Max has really stepped up and played some big minutes. He was one of the only Lakers who provided energy off the bench and he and Vando accounted for all of the bench points before garbage time.

Grade: B

Rui Hachimura

15 minutes, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 0-6 FG, 0-3 3PT, -1

Boy, that was bad. Bad in a way that you felt for Rui as he missed that last WIDE open 3-pointer. He was clearly thinking way too much about his shot and it showed.

Ham said pregame he’s still on a minutes restriction. That doesn’t excuse his performance. It’s just some added context that he’s not fully and completely 100%.

Grade: F

Christian Wood

11 minutes, 5 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 1-6 FG, 1-3 3PT, 2-2 FT, -7

I think there’s been a bit of revisionist history on Wood’s benching earlier this season. It was a string of nights like this that led to his benching. All of his production, however limited it was, came in garbage time. Before that, he had not made a shot.

A lot of his value derives from his shot-making offensively. And when his jumper is off, it’s really rough. Nights like tonight are when you wish there was another non-Jaxson Hayes option available as a big

Grade: F

Darvin Ham

Well, for one half tonight, he looked like a genius. Then for another half, he looked like...not that. Which half do you weigh more heavily?

The second half. It’s the second half.

I don’t put it at the feet of the coach for players to come out with energy. That’s on them. And the Lakers are a team that crumbles at adversity, a very concerning trait.

But, also, Darvin has fault in this. The starters were awful in the third quarter, yet played the first seven minutes of the period together. Vanderbilt has his best game of the season and played under 20 minutes. Same goes for Christie, who was actually trying defensively while Reaves and D’Lo were turnstiles.

Everyone is to blame tonight.

Grade: F

Friday’s inactives: Colin Castleton, Cam Reddish, Dylan Windler, Skylar Mays, Gabe Vincent

You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.

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