NBA

Are the Lakers Unstoppable Now?

By Provided By Sports Book Reviews December 02, 2019

The Lakers are on fire, as of November 29 they're 16-2 this season and not many teams will be able to slow them down. Some online sports betting sites even favor them to win the NBA Championship over teams like the Clippers, Bucks, Rockets and Raptors.

What makes the Lakers so tough to beat this season? Read on for the three-part answer. 

LeBron James at Point Guard

Last Thursday's game in New Orleans proves why making LeBron James the starting point guard was the right move by the Lakers. James sparked another Lakers comeback, helping come from behind and beat the Pelicans 114-110. The three-time NBA champion made sure the Lakers would end their four-game road trip with a perfect record and he reached another milestone in the process.

With his 29 points, James became the fourth player in league history to score over 33,000 career points, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone and Kobe Bryant. He also had 11 assists and five rebounds.

LeBron James leads the NBA, averaging 11.0 assists per game and many have been to Anthony Davis. The mood at the Smoothie King Center was tense because of Davis' return but James is no stranger to hostile crowds and he even said that AD received some cheers.

"I mean they still love them [in New Orleans] you heard a lot of cheers as well... you heard some boos obviously, some people boo just because they don't even know why they just want to be a part of the spectacle."

Anthony Davis' Effort at Both Ends of the Floor

AD had his first game at the Smoothie King Center since the blockbuster trade that sent him from New Orleans to Los Angeles and he played inspired basketball, leading the Lakers with 41 points and nine rebounds in 37 minutes, becoming the first player in NBA history to score 40 points in his first game against a former team.

Davis is averaging 26.1 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists 2.8 blocks and 1.6 steals in 34.9 minutes over 17 games. As I write this, he has a career average of 2.4 blocks in 483 career games but this season he has 48 blocks already,

Anthony Davis (plus-6.7 Box Plus/Minus) leads the Lakers in points, rebounds, blocks, steals and Player Efficiency Rating (PER) and he is clearly a top 5 NBA MVP (plus-2.4 Offensive Box Plus/Minus) and Defensive Player of the Year (plus-4.3 Defensive Box Plus-Minus) candidate.

"We want to make sure that when we come in, we have one goal in mind and that's to come together and win a championship," Anthony Davis told Heavy.com's Brandon 'Scoop B' Robinson in September.

"Do whatever I can to help this team win a championship. That's the main goal. That's our goal and we are going to come in with the mindset that we're all thinking. This is the year." Davis has clear aspirations and if he keeps playing like this the Lakers will go far in the playoffs.

Kyle Kuzma Getting Comfortable as a Sixth Man

Kyle Kuzma missed the entire preseason and the first four games of the season with a stress reaction in his foot but he is finding his way in his new role as a Sixth Man.

The Lakers are playing extremely well but all teams have areas of improvement and Kuzma, who is expected to play a major role in the offense as their third-best player, is still adjusting to coming off the bench, which is understandable.

Kuzma probably did not expect to be a Sixth Man after starting 68 of his 70 games last season and he wants to break through as soon as possible.

"No. I'm not patient at all," Kuzma told Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times after Wednesday's game in New Orleans. "That's why sometimes it's hard."

The 24-year-old had 16 points, five rebounds and two assists in 24 minutes off the bench against the Pelicans and he is a huge piece of the puzzle for the Lakers. His numbers are down but it is a result of him having less playing time.

He averaged 18.7 points over 33.1 minutes last year and this season he is averaging a career-low 12.3 points in 23.0 minutes. Getting used to playing less has to be tough for him but he is playing his part so far, making 46.7 percent of his shots, 36.2 percent of his 3-point attempts and 77.8 percent of his free-throws.

"It's tough sometimes, but you just have to be positive, have an even-keeled mind-set. But that's easier said than done," Kuzma said. "It's something I've got to kind of figure out. But it isn't anything I can't handle."

He knows it's "part of sacrifice and trying to be on a winning team." I see him thriving in this new role, the Lakers need him to keep playing at a high level when he enters the court.

Related items

  • 'Quarterback' LeBron James praised as Lakers escape with win over Magic 'Quarterback' LeBron James praised as Lakers escape with win over Magic

    Frank Vogel highlighted how well LeBron James "quarterbacks the action" for the Los Angeles Lakers after the team avoided a potentially damaging collapse in a road win over the Orlando Magic.

    The Magic (11-13) recovered from 24 points behind to level Wednesday's match at 71-71 in the fourth quarter, but James had a hand in all 10 unanswered points the Lakers produced from there to regain control of the game.

    James finished with 25 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, his sixth triple-double of the season helping the Lakers to a key 96-87 win.

    That improved the team to 22-3, Vogel's squad having won 15 of their last 16 games to sit level with the Milwaukee Bucks for the NBA's best record.

    Having surrendered such a big lead, going on to suffer a defeat would have come as a heavy blow to the Lakers, with Vogel quick to recognise James' impact in ensuring that did not happen.

    "LeBron was great, especially down the stretch," Vogel said.

    "He quarterbacks the action for us, keeping the lead at a healthy distance and making plays on the defensive end."

    Team-mate Alex Caruso, who connected with a corner three assisted by James as part of that crucial 10-0 run, added: "He is the best in the world for a reason.

    "Him just getting to the paint draws so many bodies that we're open on the backside. He creates a lot of attention so it's up to us to play off that and we did a good job."

    James insisted it was a team game when asked about his starring performance.

    He said: "Everyone is just playing their roles, buying into what the system is and trusting one another. That's what has got us off to a really good start. 

    "We believe in each other and want each other to succeed. We trust what coach Vogel and the coaching staff's gameplan is every single night and we just try to execute that. 

    "I assert my will when I step on the floor. It's all about just trying to make the right plays, the right passes, the right reads as a point guard on the team and do the right things defensively to help us win."

    Anthony Davis recorded 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Lakers, who had Jared Dudley ejected as he attempted to stand up for Dwight Howard when the teams were engaged in a fourth-quarter shoving match. 

    James disagreed with the decision, adding to ESPN: "I mean, that's all it takes to get ejected? These days? Little shove?

    "I've seen a lot more than that. But Duds will do whatever. He told you guys at media day his job is to come in here if somebody goes crazy, do something crazy to me or AD whoever on the team, he's going to be the muscle."

  • Kawhi Leonard 'like Maximus coming back as the gladiator' on triumphant Raptors return Kawhi Leonard 'like Maximus coming back as the gladiator' on triumphant Raptors return

    Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard was described as "Maximus coming back as the gladiator" by Doc Rivers as he made a triumphant return to the Toronto Raptors.

    Leonard received his championship ring on his first match back in Toronto since opting to join the Clippers in free agency after he had inspired the Canadian franchise to their first NBA title.

    The Raptors welcomed him back with a tribute video and he was greeted by former team-mates and coaches in the centre of the court, receiving a positive reception from the home crowd.

    Leonard went on to score 23 points, adding six assists and five rebounds as the Clippers won 112-92 on Wednesday to move to 19-7, while the defending champion Raptors dropped to 16-8.

    Clippers coach Rivers praised the Raptors for how they received Leonard and was certain the often-reserved NBA Finals MVP had been touched by the occasion.

    "It's like Maximus coming back as the gladiator," Rivers said just before tip-off.

    "He was the champion and just did everything honourably and the right way. I was joking earlier that would be a great intro."

    After the victory, Rivers added: "Some players just don't let you in. But I can tell you that ovation, to him, was very heartfelt. There's no doubt about that. It meant a lot to him.

    "I thought what the Raptors did overall - the video, the players coming out, all of them who played with him - that's the best that I've seen since I've been in the league.

    "That's a really classy move by the organisation and then by the fans as well."

    Kyle Lowry presented Leonard's ring and the two players shared a moment admiring the memento that contains over 640 diamonds.

    "I was joking with him and just showing him that the ring was nice and like it was shining too bright – we were laughing," Leonard said, according to ESPN.

    "Memories probably just ran through our heads. As far as winning a championship, it pretty much has come full circle now, being able to get the ring and see where the hard work came from.

    "But it's more than that. It's just a journey. For me, as far as playing for the city, the chapter coming closed once I came over with the Clippers, but I still love the city.

    "Those guys on the team, the players, the coaching staff, I still have love for them and wish them the best."

    Asked about the video tribute and fans' reaction when he received his ring, Leonard said: "It was great, it was a great moment.

    "They did a great job putting it together, having all the players out there that won with me, standing there and presenting the ring.

    "It just kind of puts you back in those spots when you were on the floor, or the locker room talk going into the game, and after the game watching those highlights.

    "It was a special season for us, for me and for the whole city and country. I'm just glad we were able to win. It was a blessing."

    The Clippers lost Patrick Beverley to a concussion, while Pascal Siakam had a game-high 24 points for the Raptors, who have now lost four of their last five games.

  • Clippers win in Leonard's Toronto return, Bucks stretch streak Clippers win in Leonard's Toronto return, Bucks stretch streak

    Kawhi Leonard enjoyed a successful return to Toronto on Wednesday, while the Milwaukee Bucks' run continued and James Harden starred in the NBA.

    Back in Toronto, where he won the NBA championship last season, Leonard helped the Los Angeles Clippers past the Raptors 112-92.

    The star received a tribute video and finished with 23 points, six assists and five rebounds as the Clippers improved to 19-7.

    Top of the Eastern Conference, the Bucks clinched a 16th straight win by beating the New Orleans Pelicans 127-112.

    Without Giannis Antetokounmpo (quad soreness), Milwaukee still cruised thanks to Eric Bledsoe's 29 points on 10-of-13 shooting.

    Harden had 55 points, including 20 in the fourth quarter, to see the Houston Rockets past the Cleveland Cavaliers 116-110.

     

    LeBron lifts Lakers, Graham shines

    LeBron James' triple-double of 25 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists saw the Los Angeles Lakers improve to 22-3 by beating the Orlando Magic 96-87.

    Devonte' Graham starred for the Charlotte Hornets as his 40 points saw them past the Brooklyn Nets 113-108.

    A double-double from Rudy Gobert (20 points and 16 rebounds) helped the Utah Jazz claim a 127-116 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

     

    Warriors' woes

    The Golden State Warriors (5-21) are the worst team in the NBA after losing to the New York Knicks (5-20). The Knicks ended a 10-game losing streak with a 124-122 overtime win.

     

    Morant magic

    Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant, the second pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, produced a nice dunk in a win over the Phoenix Suns.

    Wednesday's results

    Houston Rockets 116-110 Cleveland Cavaliers
    Indiana Pacers 122-117 Boston Celtics
    Los Angeles Lakers 96-87 Orlando Magic
    Los Angeles Clippers 112-92 Toronto Raptors
    Charlotte Hornets 113-108 Brooklyn Nets
    Chicago Bulls 136-102 Atlanta Hawks
    Utah Jazz 127-116 Minnesota Timberwolves
    Memphis Grizzlies 115-108 Phoenix Suns
    Milwaukee Bucks 127-112 New Orleans Pelicans
    Sacramento Kings 94-93 Oklahoma City Thunder
    New York Knicks 124-122 Golden State Warriors

     

    76ers at Celtics

    The Philadelphia 76ers (18-7) have struggled on the road so far this season and face the Boston Celtics (17-6) at TD Garden on Thursday.

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