Golden State Warriors vs. L.A. Lakers: Postgame Grades and Analysis for Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers are a franchise that is known for their ability to shine in the face of adversity. Such was evident Friday night, as the Lakers took on the Golden State Warriors mere hours after head coach Mike Brown was fired (via Sam Amick, USA Today).
L.A. reacted by running the Warriors out of the gym with a 101-77 victory.
Kobe Bryant led the way with 27 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and two steals. Reserve Darius Morris would step up and pour in a career-high 10 points off of the bench, providing the Lakers with an emotional spark.
So who was good, who could have been better and what is there to build on? All of the grades and analysis you could need can be found in the following slides!
And how about coach Bernie Bickerstaff?
Steve Blake, Point Guard
Overall Grade: C
There really isn't much to write about when it comes to Steve Blake. He put together a pedestrian stat line of seven points, two assists and two rebounds, all the while being outperformed by reserve and teammate Darius Morris.
So where do we begin?
Blake committed four fouls and played poor defense early against Stephen Curry. Curry consistently moved to his strong side off of the dribble and found his mid-range game early and often.
As soon as Blake's replacement stepped in, however, Curry began to struggle. Rather indicative of how Blake's evening came and went.
Fortunately, Blake hit a timely first-half three-pointer that partially saves his grade.
Kobe Bryant, Shooting Guard
Overall Grade: A+
During the first half of the Lakers' 101-77 win over the Warriors, Kobe Bryant was spectacular. Although sloppy with the ball, committing three turnovers, Bryant put up 13 points, four rebounds, one steal and a team-high five assists.
For the game, Bryant would finish with 27 points, nine rebounds, a game-high seven assists and two steals on 10-of-18 shooting.
During the third quarter in which the Los Angeles Lakers separated themselves from the Warriors, Kobe stepped up and scored nine of the team's first 13 points. This extended the Lakers' lead to 60-50 and sparked a huge effort on both sides of the ball.
The signature play was Bryant's circus shot in which he made it over the backboard, all the while drawing a foul.
With all of this being established, Kobe's performance was not significant because of his scoring. Instead, it was the fact that Bryant facilitated the Lakers offense better than any other player on the team.
He found three-point shooters out of the post, streaking scorers from the top of the key and consistently looked down low to his bigs. When all was said and done, Kobe led the Lake Show with seven assists.
You can speak of his turnovers, but Bryant was excellent on both ends of the floor. A masterful performance in the first Mike Brown-less game of the year.
Metta World Peace, Small Forward
Overall Grade: B-
Metta World Peace did not shoot the ball very well at all. He started the game 0-of-10 and never appeared to find his rhythm until midway through the second half.
Once he got on his game, however, he was unstoppable.
MWP made his next three shots, including a three-pointer and an additional two free throws. As a result, his success brought his point total 10 points.
Through all of his early shortcomings on offense, World Peace would not allow his confidence to be broken. He remained tenacious on defense and frustrated Harrison Barnes into 3-of-8 shooting and three turnovers.
At the end of the game, Metta would finish with 10 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Although he wasn't prolific on the scoreboard, World Peace did what the Lakers had been waiting for him to do. He was active on the glass, patient on defense and savvy with his shot selection, despite his poor shooting.
A quality outing from Metta World Peace.
Pau Gasol, Power Forward
Overall Grade: A
Many people are looking for Pau Gasol to put up 20 points and 10 rebounds a night. The truth of the matter is, the Lakers are at their best when Pau is focusing on defense, facilitating on offense and creating second-chance opportunities for teammates.
Which is exactly what he did.
For the game, Gasol finished with 14 points, 16 rebounds, two assists, two blocks and one steal. Despite his poor shooting performance, as he finished 6-of-18 from the floor, Gasol was outstanding in every other facet of the game.
Which is why he deserves a near-perfect grade.
Gasol struggled early on David Lee, allowing him to fight his way into the lane at virtual will. As the game progressed, however, Gasol began to discover the proper base for defending Lee out on the perimeter.
In turn, Lee was held to 3-of-10 shooting and a mere 10 points.
On the offensive end, Gasol hauled in four offensive rebounds and dished out two assists. Those dimes do not properly represent how well he passed the ball, however, as Gasol constantly moved the ball around the floor and created opportunities for his teammates.
His poor shooting does very little to damage his grade after his performance Friday night.
Dwight Howard, Center
Overall Grade: A-
Dwight Howard fell into foul trouble early and ended up playing a mere 24 minutes. In that time, Howard played the type of basketball that will make the Los Angeles Lakers championship contenders.
All-out defense, tenacity on the boards and quality decision-making on the offensive end of the floor.
Howard's stat line is solid enough for a 24-minute outing. With six points, eight rebounds, three offensive boards and two blocks, Howard clearly made his presence felt when he was actually on the floor.
Not the most dominant performance you'll see, but Howard proved that he could fill the role that the Lakers need him to. He can score when necessary, rebound at all times and alter any shot that comes into the paint.
All in all, D-12 was a quiet force that impacted this game much more than his stat sheet will show. The four fouls certainly hurt his grade, however, as the game wasn't blown open until the final minutes of the third quarter.
Much to build on here.
Antawn Jamison, Sixth Man
Overall Grade: B
Through the first five games of the season, Antawn Jamison had averaged a mere 3.8 points on 2.8 shot attempts. Against the Golden State Warriors, however, Jamison was aggressive on both ends and finished with six points, seven rebounds and seven shot attempts.
His 2-of-7 shooting means nothing when you consider how comfortable he looked in a Lakers uniform. The first time he's ever looked that way.
As acknowledged, Jamison has yet to start scoring at the rate the Lakers expect him to. With that being said, coach Mike Brown never offered Jamison the opportunity to step in and contribute as an offensive force.
Although his defense remains shaky, Jamison took full advantage of his opportunities against the Warriors by crashing the boards and sending a message. He may not be there just yet, but with quality minutes will come quality production.
It's just a matter of patience and belief.
Overall Grade: A+
This was the best performance the second unit had all season. Collectively, they scored 37 points and brought down 15 rebounds for the game.
Stars of the second unit included Jordan Hill, Darius Morris and Jodie Meeks.
Morris provided quality minutes early, displaying an infectious energy as he attacked the basket early. Although he must learn to place his passes better for shooters coming off of screens, Morris proved to be a valuable commodity.
His youth did shine through at times. With a two-on-one advantage, Morris ended up throwing the ball out of bounds after losing his dribble. He also missed Jordan Hill on a streaking scoring opportunity, although Hill drew a foul.
With that being said, Morris provided a scoring spark off of the bench and appeared to earn the trust of his teammates. In the first quarter alone, Morris put up seven points and four rebounds on a perfect 2-of-2 shooting from beyond the arc.
For the game, Morris would finish finished with 10 points, five rebounds and five assists.
As for Hill, he continues to emerge as a reliable interior weapon on both ends. He's attacking the glass with ferocity and remaining in front of his man on D. He also provided 14 points for the game.
This was a common theme for the second unit. They were aggressive, fearless and combined for 37 points on the night.
Two of which came on Jodie Meeks jaw-dropping crossover and jump shot combination.
Overall Grade: A+
In the first game without the recently fired Mike Brown, the Los Angeles Lakers were led into action by Bernie Bickerstaff. Consider this debut one that sends a message to the Lakers' higher-ups and organizations around the league.
This man knows what he's doing.
Not only were the players working perfectly off one another, but Bickerstaff created the perfect balance of starters and reserves. Unlike Brown, who rarely allowed his second unit to see the floor, Bickerstaff trusted the likes of Antawn Jamison, Darius Morris and Jodie Meeks to perform.
And perform they would.
Bickerstaff's second unit would finish with 37 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists. Coach B would also enable his team to post a season-high 58 team rebounds by opening up the floor with his perimeter players and collapsing his bigs.
Not only would this enable Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard to rebound, but it opened the door for perimeter players such as Kobe Bryant and Metta World Peace to step in.
Who knows what Bickerstaff's future holds, but he proved that he could lead this team against the Warriors. Could the team reconsider going outward for help after this outstanding coaching performance?
Oh, and who doesn't love his postgame press conference?