Russell Returns for the Lakers, but Rose smells sweeter for the Knicks

Before last night’s game against the New York Knicks I tweeted that it wasn’t his offense I was worried about but it was D’Angelo’s defense that had me concerned especially coming off of a knee injury.

I should have used some of the 140 characters more wisely.

It is pretty easy to look at a box-score and define how easily a team “could have won” when the loss is by as few as SIX POINTS. That’s three layups or two threes.

Kristaps Porzingis continues to make the argument that he could have easily been the Number One Pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.  Certainly no lower than the pick number two, behind only Towns, where the Lakers decided upon young D’Angelo.  Jahlil Okafor went third and Porzingis was four.  He had 7 BLOCKS against the Lakers, most of which were around the rim.

D’Angelo, in his “minute-restricted” return after missing 12 games, played 16 minutes and took 8 shots.  He went 1-8 from the floor.  The make was a three.  He shot three of those.  He also had five assists, 2 steals and turned the ball over 4 times.

Ingram also went 1-8 and 1-3 from three.  These two combined for 2-16 FG, 2-6 3pt for 6 points.

So, if one of those 7 Blocks by Porzingis ends up an, “and-one,” and Russell and Ingram each hit one more shot, the Lakers Win.  There is certainly more to it than that, but it could have been that simple.  It also could have been as simple as playing proper defensive positioning.  The Lakers have reverted to their “DEFENSIVE SYNDROME” once again with guys getting beat and help-side defense either not being present or the rotation falling short.  They were lethargic at times, lacking energy and communication, and seemed to almost be without “purpose.”

Someone called the game that Luol Deng had a “break-out” game as a Laker.  I will call it perhaps his most productive and he was maybe the most efficient he has been with 62.5% shooting from three (5-8) and 8-13 for 61%  overall for 22 points.  Deng added 2 steals which he has consistently done this season regardless of point production.

Will Deng continue playing at this level of efficiency?

Unlikely.

But, he can play close to that each time out and the Lakers need productivity from his position, especially considering the $18M per.

There was so much (media) emphasis on the “Return of Russell” that people forgot that Nick Young, Tarik Black and Jose Calderon have all been missing in action as well.

Young returned and looked good, particularly in the first half when he ended with ten points in twelve minutes.  He finished with 15 in 20 on 54.5% from the floor.

On a night when Nick Young and Luol Deng were feelin it and were very efficient, especially in the first half, perhaps young D’Angelo should have “looked” for his mates more as opposed to launching so many bricks?

Speaking of Bricks.. Derrick Rose did NOT have many. He finished 12-16 for 25 points.  Many of those were either a running shot or layup. Defense? Having D’Angelo Russell on the floor, coming off a knee injury, playing defense on Derrick Rose is like.. like.. well, it was like the best cure for an ailing back.

D’Angelo needs extensive wall drills and lunge work.  This will only benefit his “injured” knee (it’s weak), but will help him in shooting as well..

D’Angelo” What did you say?”

Me: I said you need to strengthen your knees by doing lunges and the wall drill

D’Angelo: Nah, man.. the part about shooting?

Me: Oh.. yeh, this will also benefit you as a shooter.

 

 

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