NBA First Half Awards
With the season just over halfway done, let's look at the major awards. Feel free to disagree but it's James Hardens world right now and we're just living in it.
Heading into Tuesday night's match up between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors, a lot of people thought the Lakers were going to shy away in prime time against the Warriors. This is the first time since the 2018 NBA Finals that Lebron James was going up against them at Oracle Arena.
One of the biggest stories in this game was that Lebron James left the game with a groin injury and he did not return. James scored 17 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, recorded five assists, and had one steal. At the time of his injury, Los Angeles led by double digits.
When he exited the game, the Golden State Warriors went on a run but they never took the lead. Golden State got as close as two points. The Lakers were able to regroup and they beat the Warriors 127-101 on the road.
What is another big story in this game is that how good the Los Angeles Lakers role players performed. From the opening tip, they did not play scared. There were a couple of signs in the game they didn't play scared. The first sign was that Kyle Kuzma drilled a three-pointer on their first shot of the game. Kuzma scored 19 points and grabbed six rebounds.
The second sign that this team didn't play scared was that they played at a fast pace all night long and it didn't seem to bother them. Rajon Rondo and Lonzo Ball both controlled the tempo in the game. Rondo scored 15 points, grabbed five rebounds, and recorded 10 assists off the bench. He was in the game more often with Lebron out than Lonzo. Ball scored six points, grabbed three rebounds, and recorded four assists.
Los Angeles also did not have JaVale McGee in this game because of pneumonia. Ivica Zubac balled out by recording a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds. He also recorded two assists and blocked two shots. Brandon Ingram scored 14 points, Lance Stephenson scored 11 points, and Josh Hart scored 12 points.
This team had seven players score in double figures. The character this team displayed tonight was nothing but amazement. It is only one game, but the Los Angeles Lakers supporting cast is all better than we originally imagined.
Maybe the Golden State Warriors took this game a little bit for granted, but you have to have skill in order to beat this basketball team. If there was going to be a blowout tonight, I thought it was going to be the other way around with Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Steph Curry all going off. That didn't happen to be the case and no body can erase the fact that the Los Angeles Lakers might have arrived earlier than expected, but I don't think they are ready to beat this team four times in a playoff series.
I doubt Steph or Klay go cold four times in a series, but it is going to take a team effort to beat the Golden State Warriors. The supporting cast of this Los Angeles Lakers team gives them a glimpse of hope to make a surprising run to the NBA Finals. This was probably the biggest game of Zubac's, Kuzma's, Ball's, Ingram's, and Josh Hart's career. They passed it with flying colors and they will need many more.
The scouting department deserves some credit for this win as well. Zubac, Kuzma, and Hart were not top draft picks. They have done very well for where they were taken in the draft. Ball and Ingram were both number two overall picks.
The Los Angeles Lakers shouldn't dare trade for Anthony Davis right now. I totally understand Davis is one of the Top 3 players in the NBA, but the chemistry with the younger players shouldn't even be touched right now. It is very important to have very good role players if you want to have a championship contending team.
The leadership of Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson also helped in this game. A big factor to this win tonight was the coaching of Luke Walton. Walton knows some of Steve Kerr's tendencies because he was an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors for a couple of seasons.
The Los Angeles Lakers improve to 20-14 on the year. They currently sit in the fourth seed in the Western Conference. The Golden State Warriors drop to 23-12 on the year. They currently sit in the second seed in the Western Conference.
Los Angeles is currently 1.5 games back of the Oklahoma City Thunder for the number three spot. They are just two games back of the number two and one spot. The Denver Nuggets currently own the number one spot in the west right now. It is only December but this game will give the Lakers a lot of confidence heading forward.
The Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors will play each other two more times in the regular season. It is very possible these two teams could play each other in the postseason and that series could pose a lot of drama.