The Lakers are worth a quarter

The Angelenos finish the Eastern tour 5-2, but they continue with their thicker version. Against Atlanta, they woke up in the fourth quarter. Bring (25 + 16) was not enough.


The Lakers win, but they don't convince. It is the feeling that Frank Vogel's team has given on a tour of the East that ends with a positive balance (5-2) and two losses, one against the Sixers by the minimum (something normal away from home) and a ridiculous one against the bottom , the Pistons (something not so normal). The victory in extremis against the eternal rival and in Boston, was a breath of fresh air achieved by a miracle, in a very bad game and with much suffering. And against the Hawks, in the game that concluded the tour, the victory was with a little more slack on the scoreboard, but similar sensations: many failures in the outside shot, too many losses (11, 25 in the last two games) , a slight recovery of an Anthony Davis who, again, disappeared in the last quarter and, in general, many things to improve in the face of hypothetical clashes against, without going any further, some Clippers who win and shine in equal parts and who They do not resemble, neither in substance nor in form, the team that lost 3-1 last year in the conference semifinals against the Nuggets.

And in that possible duel, the Lakers will not be satisfied with the same tactic they are currently employing. Against the Celtics they were small bursts of good play, totally overshadowed by a game, in general terms, quite embarrassing (on the part of both teams) and with a huge amount of failures. In Atlanta, the Lakers have pressed only and exclusively at the end, when LeBron put the batteries in attack and Caruso gave extra energy to his teammates to take over the game, and without that early season feeling of being left over or pressing when they want, but achieving a victory that, after all, dwarfs the bad game and does not set off any kind of alarm. It is not the same to finish the East tour 5-2 than 2-5, and the 16-6 record leaves them tied with the Jazz (15-5) and just half a game from that little brother who wants to stop being it: the Clippers, 16-5, best team in NBA

The Lakers shot, against Atlanta, with 51.9% on field goals, but they stayed at a poor 30% on 3s, missing many released pitches. The good percentages under the rim of Davis (10 of 14, for 25 points, but only 2 in the last period) and Harrell (8 of 9, for 19) were a huge oxygen ball, as well as the successful penetrations, always good read by Schröder (16 points with 6 of 10). But apart from that, nothing: the Angelenos did not have any player above 7 rebounds or 9 assists (both categories led by LeBron), and they held on in the match going a lot to the personnel line (24 free throws, seven more than the Hawks, to score 20). Of course, they woke up on time: the last quarter, as if it were scripted, was different from the rest. The Angelenos achieved 55% in field goals and 60% in triples (3 of 5) in the last 12 minutes, in which they only lost three balls. And LeBron, who only had 9 points and had shown some defensive passivity (he ate a cut, did not close the rebound well and was noticed misplaced at certain times), scored 12 more, the only player of the game who achieved double digits in the final stretch of the meeting. And the Lakers won, of course.

Caruso led the initial reaction and LeBron added last. Earlier, Trae Young (the best of his team and of the match, with 25 points and 16 assists), scored a front triple from home to confirm that he had still started (97-98 with less than two minutes to go). LeBron responded with 9 consecutive points (a triple, a layup in transition and four free throws) that, together with two losses by the Hawks (who added 6 in the fourth quarter) and a lone basket by Trae, sentenced the crash. James scored his team's last 9 points without fail and fixed a rough, thick and, again, very ugly match. He finished with 21 total points (+ 7 + 9), the second highest scorer of his own after Davis, who went to 25 ... but only grabbed two rebounds. Unthinkable for a 2.08 man who has had double-digit rebounding in six of his nine seasons as a professional. Marc is beginning to have a hard time finding a gap to justify his ownership (today, 2 points in 17 minutes), and only Caldwell-Pope (11) and Caruso are constant and have some regularity.

In the Hawks, by the way, little apart from Trae, with good minutes from John Collins (22 points) and a superlative Clint Capela, who won the game over Davis under the hoops (16 + 13, with 3 blocks), although He couldn't stop the Lakers' tall man's offensive production capacity. And Rajon Rondo, by the way, was reunited with the team he won the ring with last year (3 + 2 + 2 + 3, in a low-key performance). Atlanta remains with 10-10, in sixth position of an East that was supposed to be ultra-competitive and that is being so ... but because no one is capable of winning, beyond the Sixers, games with solvency and consecutively. The Lakers, for their part, now play five games in a row at home (Nuggets, Pistons, twice Thunder and one Grizzlies), against many theoretically good rivals with whom they can improve their game and extend their record, recover sensations and that Frank Vogel keep trying new things. Los Angeles are on streaks within the same game and need more perseverance. But of course, 5-2 on the East tour and fly. That is, in the end, the most important thing in the NBA: win.

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