The Lakers got trounced in Houston by the Rockets on Monday night. But in this league, they don’t even give you enough time to dry your eyes. Not even 24 hours after their loss, the Lakers will be in Atlanta to face the Hawks.
We know the Hawks are all about Trae Young. Coming into Tuesday, he’s averaging 27.0 points (10th in the league) and 10.8 assists (2nd). One of the best in the league to break down defenses.
It hasn’t exactly worked out too well for the Hawks but Dejounte Murray has emerged as one of the better two-way guards in the league. A 21-5-5 dude, he’s also actually shooting his best at three for his career (.388 in 6.2 attempts). It’s no wonder teams are throwing offers at the Hawks before the trading deadline in about 9 days.
The Hawks are full of players with offensive prowess. Jalen Johnson has taken advantage of his starting role and is in the running for Most Improved Player (5.6 points and 4.0 rebounds last year to 15.5 points and 8.2 boards this year; his minutes increased from 15 to 33). Saddiq Bey is capable of scoring big. De’Andre Hunter has been a steady presence in the wing and Bogdan Bogdanovic provides outside artillery from the bench. And they still have Clint Capela, who is the #1 reason why the Hawks lead in offensive rebounding.
So the Hawks are capable of generating points (4th in the league at 120.2). And they want to keep it as a shootout because their defense has been leaky this season (4th in defensive rating, which is points allowed per possession). We know the Lakers are capable of such offense as we saw against Chicago a few days ago.
Well, we know the concern for these Lakers. They’re inconsistent until they prove that they’re not. And we thought they were turning the corner before the Houston game; they were 5-2 in those previous 7 games before they received a shellacking against the Rockets. They seemed doomed once Jarred Vanderbilt got ejected; he’s been their main source of energy these last few games. Once he was gone, it’s like he took their energy along with him.
But no matter who’s on the court, they need to have that sense of urgency. As it is, these are who the Lakers are: a .500 team. 48 games have gone by the wayside and they continue to show that they’re an up and down team. We certainly know what they can do on the court (witness how they beat the Thunder). But they need to show that on a consistent basis.
Anyway, LeBron James said he’s going to play; I’m sure he wasn’t happy about last night’s performance. By the way, he scored 47 against the Hawks on his birthday last season. Anthony Davis is now deemed out so the Lakers better dig deep for this game.
No matter the result, I’m sure the fans are going to be frustrated with it. And that’s how this team is going to be for the rest of the season if they continue to be up and down: maddening and frustrating. They should be so much better than a .500 team but yet here we are. Again.