It has been a breathtaking start to the Los Angeles Lakers’ season. Their early 5-1 record has the team recording their best start to a season since 2010.
The only defeat, thus far, came in the opening game to cross-city rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers on October 23. That game brought a vast amount of attention to the city of Los Angeles, as the whole world was fixated on the heavyweight match-up between two teams who are tipped and favored for the ultimate glory this season.
The sheer goal for the Lakers is to claim and assert their status as the kings of the iconic city of Los Angeles, lifting championship #17 in the process. However, it did not go according to plan in game #1, as there was a consistent problem throughout with their performance. Lack of aggression and a lack of grit on offensive rebounding being some of those issues.
Frank Vogel‘s Lakers only managed nine boards on the offensive end in comparison to Doc Rivers‘ defensive juggernauts who edged it with two more. The main deterrent of the performance was the turnovers. Ball retention was non-existent during certain spells of the game and possession was lost in key offensive plays.
Looking to debutants, two-time NBA champion Danny Green delivered a first class display notching up 28 points. The most by any player in his debut for the purple and gold, ever. Green was also among the focal point on rallying a spirited defensive urgency through the team which transpired halfway through the third quarter, as the Lakers closed out a deficit, to tie the game.
Late on showed elements of a lack of understanding throughout the team, which is to be expected with it practically being a completely newly constructed roster. Unfortunately this caused the game to be dropped, on the big stage, with the world watching.
There are now two relevant teams in Los Angeles which have a real shot at a championship. Kawhi Leonard‘s 30 points urged the Clippers to a huge 112-102 victory, taking part one in the battle of Los Angeles. However, there are many battles within a war.
The Lakers kicked off their home opener against a Quin Synder-led Utah Jazz team. LeBron James erupted for 32 points in this one and dominated the highlight reel with dazzling plays. One of those being a superb overhead lob pass in the paint to find fellow superstar Anthony Davis who dunked it home.
The performance was a much better defensive performance, as the Lakers kept the Jazz under 100 points and were far more aggressive in the rebounding category, putting together 11 offensive rebounds, 8 more than the Jazz.
In addition, Troy Daniels put on a fantastic display, knocking down four 3-pointers for 15 points on his official home Lakers debut. The purple and gold edged this one for a 95-86 win.
Sunday October 27, saw the Lakers rocking their fresh Sunday whites uniforms, as they looked to improve their season record to 2-1. In their way this time, the Charlotte Hornets.
Dwight Howard, who is adamant on gaining full respect and admiration from Lakers fans in his second spell with the franchise, posted a double-double, with 16 points, on 8-8 shooting, and 10 rebounds, along with 4 blocks.
Anthony Davis continued to display his excellence both offensively and defensively, racking up 29 points, 14 rebounds, and 3 assists. Both Davis and Howard were being a nuisance for the Hornets in the paint, who couldn’t cope with the sheer size of the Lakers down low.
An area which was a persistent issue was the amount of fouls given away, leading the Hornets to make 21 of 23 free throws on the night. LeBron James and Co. rallied to blow Charlotte away in the third quarter, which led the Lakers to a routine 120-101 win.
The following home game against the Memphis Grizzlies was a historic night for Anthony Davis, as he became the first Laker player to drop 40 points and 20 boards in 16 years. With the last player achieving this being none-other than Shaquille O’Neal.
Davis also set another record for achieving this in just under 31 minutes as he sat out for the entirety of the fourth quarter, as the Lakers blew out the Grizzlies 120-91 to achieve back-to back blowout wins within a week.
The improvements seemed to come along as Vogel ensured a more solid offensive strategy and rotation, with the Lakers converting 40-86 field goals. The purple and gold also kept the Grizzlies to just 32% shooting. Yet again, the Lakers held a team under 100 points. Solid defense.
It was an extremely positive opening month, which was technically just a week, for everyone involved in the Lakers organisation. The team have most definitely showed character and determination to push until the very end of games.
If it can be kept up and rotations are managed, the purple and gold can certainly make serious noise in a packaged Western Conference.
By Kwadwo ‘Kojo’ Larson (@kwadwo_l)