LeBron James, Anthony Davis Combine for 53 as Lakers Cruise Past Jazz

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorOctober 26, 2019

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the ball against the Utah Jazz on October 25, 2019 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)
Adam Pantozzi/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers earned their first win of the LeBron James-Anthony Davis era with a 95-86 home victory over the Utah Jazz on Friday at Staples Center.

James and Davis combined for 53 of the Lakers' points, with Troy Daniels pitching in 15 thanks in part to four three-pointers.

Utah committed 22 turnovers (versus 19 just assists) and shot 41.4 percent from the field and 8-of-25 from three-point range.

The Lakers, who lost to the L.A. Clippers 112-102 in their opener Tuesday, improved to 1-1. The Jazz fell to 1-1 after beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 100-95 in their first game.

             

Notable Performances

Jazz SG Donovan Mitchell: 24 points on 7-of-15 shooting, 3 steals

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Jazz C Rudy Gobert: 8 points on 4-of-8 shooting, 9 rebounds

Jazz PG Mike Conley: 13 points on 3-of-11 shooting

Lakers G/F LeBron James: 32 points on 12-of-22 shooting, 10 assists, 7 rebounds

Lakers F Anthony Davis: 21 points on 7-of-17 shooting, 7 rebounds, 5 blocks

Lakers G Troy Daniels: 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting

                           

Lakers Win Despite Continued Offensive Struggles

Los Angeles' performance Friday brought back memories of the early-2000s teams.

Those squads won three straight championships, while the James-Davis Lakers have won just one regular-season game in Year 1, so that sentence deserves explanation.

Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal carried the Lakers offense of two decades ago. On occasion, a player like Derek Fisher or Robert Horry would contribute more than usual, but O'Neal and Bryant were the only two players to average more than 11.5 points per game in the 2000-01 and 2001-02 seasons.

Those Lakers could get away with a highly concentrated offense in the early 2000s, when the pace of play was far slower and offenses were stuck in a stone age in which scoring 100 points in a game was an accomplishment.

These Lakers are concentrated around the Davis-James combo if the first two games are any indication. In fact, any Laker not named Davis, James or Troy Daniels combined to go just 10-of-38 for 27 points on per night when aesthetically pleasing offensive basketball was at a premium.

Alex Regla of Silver Screen & Roll pointed out some strategical concerns as well:

The Lakers are going to have serious problems making a deep playoff run without a more well-rounded scoring attack. Teams like the Los Angeles Clippers, who beat the Lakers 112-102 on Tuesday, can turn to a handful of players to post 20-plus points a night.

Sure, Los Angeles skated to a relatively comfortable win Friday because Utah got nothing going offensively outside Donovan Mitchell. In fact, the Jazz didn't score more than 20 points in any of the first three quarters.

Plus, the Lakers are still without Kyle Kuzma, who is recovering from a stress reaction in his left foot. The team's second-leading scorer from last season at 18.7 points per game should certainly provide a boost, as will the return of stat-sheet-stuffing point guard Rajon Rondo (calf injury). 

But this is now the second game in two tries in which the Lakers offense has been James, Davis and one player stepping up for a solid night.

Their defense will help them overcome poor shooting evenings on other occasions, but games against more high-powered offenses will prove much tougher without a more well-rounded scoring attack.

     

What's Next?

The Jazz will return home Saturday to host the Sacramento Kings at 9 p.m. ET. Los Angeles will stay in town for a Sunday evening game versus the Charlotte Hornets at 9:30.