There have been some impressive wins for the Lakers this season, and some surprising losses.
Tuesday night’s game qualified as the former. The Warriors are certainly not the dominant force right now that they’ve been in past years — emphasis on the “right now.” This doesn’t mean they won’t figure it out. It doesn’t mean they have some fatal flaw. They might. But this early in the season it’s hard to truly tell.
What we do know is that the Lakers were able to take advantage of a vulnerability they saw, and they didn’t let losing their best player shake them loose of their main goal.
Here are five takeaways from the Lakers’ 127-101 win over the Warriors.
- They’re out of excuses. That’s how Rajon Rondo put it when asked about the Lakers losing to Memphis but then beating this team. “There’s no more excuses as far as following game plans,” Rondo said. “We were able to do that tonight.” Rondo quickly tried to look ahead to the Lakers’ next game in Sacramento, but he makes a fair point. Tuesday’s win showed the Lakers what they’re capable of accomplishing.
- After losing to the Grizzlies, there was some talk about how the Lakers went under on Mike Conley, leaving him open for deep baskets. It followed naturally that if the Lakers did the same thing against the Warriors, it would spell their doom. Lakers Coach Luke Walton even said before the game that if Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson or Kevin Durant were left open, somebody messed up. It was one part of the game the Lakers executed the best, contributing to the Warriors atrocious shooting, including 25% from three.
- Bill Walton loves his son, Luke. Bill Walton sat in on Steve Kerr’s news conference and tried to ask a question. Kerr joked that he was the enemy now, given that Walton was wearing a Lakers shirt. Walton replied that he was just a proud dad. He attended his son’s pre-game and post-game news conferences, along with family friend Mickey Hart, a drummer for the Grateful Dead.
- The young Lakers took pride in how they were able to bounce back after losing LeBron James. (James left the game in the third quarter due to a groin strain.) “We’ve been confident all year,” Lonzo Ball said. “It’s not just one player on this team; we have a good team. Obviously we want him back as fast as possible, but however long he misses, if he does miss, we’ve gotta do our thing.” Other players echoed Ball’s thoughts. Tuesday’s game, though, was just a test — if James does miss time — of how much the Lakers can do without him.
- Rajon Rondo is very important, and his importance grows when James isn’t available. Rondo has a calming influence on the Lakers, and he can provide some of the playmaking and traffic controlling that James offers. To be clear, that’s not the only thing Rondo offers. He also made a three-pointer and had 10 assists, but this is the kind of player who is very important on a young team.
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli