The Lakers played arguably one of their best games of the season in their annihilation of the Knicks last night. The Lakers offense looked dynamic and full throttle, running and gunning and just outworking the Knicks in almost every aspect of the game. All in all, it was an encouraging game for this young squad, and here are my 4 takeaways from the game.
1) Luke Walton changed the starting lineup to further prioritize youth- and it worked.
Before the game, it was announced that Coach Walton was going to bench $136 in combined salary in the contracts of Timofey Mosgov and Luol Deng, replacing them with Brandon Ingram and Tarik Black. After the game it was reported that Deng was relatively OK with the demotion while Mosgov was a little less favorable of the decision. Regardless of that , the Lakers responded in a BIG way. The combination of Russell-Young-Ingram-Randle-Black combined for 58 points, 26 rebounds, 10 assists, and a whopping +52 as a unit. They were active on the boards and around the rim for second chance points, out hustling the Knicks in almost every category, and generally killing it in Madison Square Garden. With such an inspiring performance, look for Walton to turn to this lineup more and more in the future as he emphasizes the youth movement and further development of these young Lakers.
2) On that same note, keep an eye out for how Luol Deng and Timofey Mosgov react moving forward
With this new lineup, the playing time for Deng and Mosgov can potentially diminish more and more moving forward. Deng’s minutes will be less because Ingram (who already leads all rookies in minutes) is now starting full time moving forward. However it won’t be nearly as bad for Deng as it is for Mosgov; at least Deng is still in the rotation. Mosgov, who didn’t even play a minute against NY, has lost all his playing time due to the starting of Black and the ascension and increased production of Ivicia Zubac, who has completely sopped up the back minutes. Mosgov reportedly is “still trying to handle” it, but to be honest he really has little say in the manner. Tarik and Ivicia are playing well and going nowhere, and Mosgov’s albatross of a contract is enough to scare even the boldest and financially stacked of teams. Maybe a team can improbably help the Lakers out (….Brooklyn?) but that is not that all likely. I believe that Mosgov is a professional, and I don’t think he’ll rock the boat too much. But for us Lakers fans it WILL be something to keep an eye on as we move on.
3) The Lakers frontcourt put in WORK
Starting with the starting frontcourt and moving on down, the Lakers crashed the boards. And crashed… and crashed. Not only did the Lakers out rebounded the Knicks by 15, (55-40) but they owned the Knicks on the offensive boards (20-6). L.A. had 2 players in double digits in rebounds (Tarik Black and Larry Nance Jr. each had 10 apiece) Brandon Ingram, Ivicia Zubac, and Jordan Clarkson each chipped in with 7 boards. Nick Young had 5. It felt like there was a concentrated effort for the Lakers to crash the boards and extend possessions, and they did just that. Hopefully the Lakers can bring that same energy and effort to attacking the glass when they play the Pistons next.
4) Random notes (what I like to call extra possessions..corny I know, but bear with me)
As a team the Lakers finished with a +14….Every Laker who played scored, Including Metta World Peace, who hit a nice fadeaway over Carmelo Anthony late in the fourth…The only two players who didn’t play were Jose Calderon and Timofey Mosgov….The Lakers actually shot worse from the field (43.1% for L.A. to 45.1% for N.Y.) and from three (28.6% to 33.3%) but they did convert more from the free throw line (80.6% to 78.8%) The Lakers had more assists (19-16) steals (9-4) and blocks (6-4) then the Knicks, while also having less turnovers (7-16)…In fact, the Lakers 7 turnovers were the least they’ve had this season…In winning this game L.A. snapped a 12 game losing streak on the road. Keep posted with Lakers Lounge for all the Lakers content, more specifically they’re game