So long as Anthony Davis is sidelined due to a foot harm, so long as a brutal winter schedule retains pushing up towards a weary crew, the Lakers doubtless should accept fast flashes of what their finest case can appear to be.
Matched up towards a taller, longer, youthful and extra athletic crew within the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night time, the Lakers moved with precision and care, outmuscling and outsmarting their opponent in what turned out to be a reasonably uneventful 129-110 victory that decisively ended a four-game shedding streak.
The Lakers, going through measurement disadvantages at virtually each place, performed with toughness, pressure, willpower and pace to provide coach Darvin Ham a have a look at the kind of crew he desires this group to develop into.
“That’s what we have to be,” he mentioned. “That has to be our identity. That’s what we’re striving for.”
LeBron James led the Lakers (14-20) with 28 factors, two shy of scoring 30 or extra in an eighth consecutive recreation. Thomas Bryant, once more beginning in Davis’ place, had his third double-double of the season with 21 factors and 10 rebounds, and Russell Westbrook notched 15 factors, 13 rebounds and 13 assists.
It was Westbrook’s third triple-double this season — all this month — coming off the bench. That’s an NBA report for a reserve in a single season and ties him with Detlef Schrempf for the profession report for a bench participant.
“I’m a hooper,” Westbrook mentioned when requested about his bench position. “I can do anything, anytime, anywhere. Whatever’s asked of me is what I’ll do, and I’ll continue doing that [until] further notice.”
Westbrook and the Lakers put an added emphasis on the glass towards the super-sized Magic (13-22), who began the 7-foot-2 Bol Bol, 6-11 Moritz Wagner, 6-10 Paolo Banchero, 6-10 Franz Wagner and 6-4 Markelle Fultz. Orlando grabbed six offensive rebounds within the first quarter however simply two the remainder of the sport.
With out Davis, the Lakers’ high rebounder, the duty falls to everybody.
“We all just have to play a little bit more and do a little bit more, and the responsibility goes on all of us. And Russ definitely picked it up,” James mentioned. “I mean, obviously with the rebounding, we’re a team that lacks a lot of size, a lot of length, and we try to make it up just by being fundamentally sound and also being athletic. Kind of rebounding out of your own position. I think Russ has always done that in his career. He’s always rebounded outside of his size and his length. So, very key for us.”
One other key was the Lakers’ protection on Banchero, the front-runner for NBA rookie of the 12 months. Guard Patrick Beverley obtained the defensive task and helped harass and annoy Banchero right into a one-for-six taking pictures night time and simply 4 factors.
“He’s been exceptional. Playing great ball,” James mentioned of Banchero, a former Duke star who was the No. 1 decide on this 12 months’s NBA draft. “A three-level scorer so far in this league. In the paint, in the midrange and has been shooting the ball from the outside pretty well as well as of late. So, he’s only going to get better and better. Every game, he’ll get better and better. Every film session, he’ll get better and better. All these experiences are just really good for him on a game-to-game basis. They definitely got a really good one.”
However Tuesday’s recreation was Banchero’s worst of the season.
“Number one pick my ass,” Beverley repeated from the bench within the fourth quarter.
Beverley had 14 factors — his fourth recreation in double-figure scoring in his final six. In his first 21 video games this season, Beverley didn’t rating 10 factors or extra. Troy Brown Jr., who had been struggling on offense currently, scored 15 factors off the bench to tie his season excessive.
“Let it fly, man. That’s the biggest thing: You’re open, you have to shoot it,” Ham mentioned. “And I trust them, I have confidence in them. … Miss or make, you gotta be aggressive.”
The Lakers play the Warmth in Miami on Wednesday night time, James’ standing undetermined for the second night time of a back-to-back set.
“I’ll know tomorrow when I get up,” he mentioned.