The Lakers had a respite from the toughest part of their schedule recently and have been able to pull out a few wins.
All wins, though, are not created equal. Tuesday's 99-86 decision over the Sacramento Kings had its ugly aspects.
Here are five takeaways:
1. The Lakers tend to be more focused and intense for games against better competition, which is something Lakers coach Luke Walton wants to see change. They got the win on Tuesday, and they gave effort, but it wasn't the most focused outing. Turnovers and bad free-throw shooting told the tale of their lack of focus. "We had a chance to put the game away and we were out there having fun," Walton said. "I'm all about having fun while you play, but fun in a serious manner. That is, being locked in and respecting the game."
2. What led to the turnovers? "I think most of them came from lazy passes," Walton said. "I love the fact that we had 30 assists on 37 field goals, that's how we want to play, that's what we need to be, but the ones that are sticking out in my mind are just soft, lazy passes. Guys not coming to the ball, the side out of bounds."
3. Walton spoke before the game about the small sample size of the Julius Randle/Brook Lopez pairing in the starting lineup. The few times they played together in the first third of the season, it produced some of the most productive lineups. Other than his high number of turnovers Tuesday night, Randle played great. He scored 22 points with 14 rebounds and had a plus/minus rating of 33. He is showing that he can do more than be the Lakers' center in their smaller lineups.
4. It's important not to make too much of plus/minus ratings one way or another, but on Tuesday night there was a wide gap between the plus/minus ratings of the starters and reserves. All of the Lakers starters had really solid ratings — Lopez's was 15, Branding Ingram's was 19, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope's was 27 and Randle and Lonzo Ball both had plus/minus ratings of 33. By contrast, only one player off the bench had a positive plus/minus rating, which was Josh Hart at seven. There were wild swings in the game. The Lakers' runs typically came with the starters in while the Kings' runs came when the Lakers' backups were in the game.
5. When they weren't turning the ball over, the Lakers were running. The fast-break points were again a lopsided affair. Where the Lakers had 42 fast-break points on Sunday night against the Hawks, they had 35 on Tuesday while the Kings only had eight.