Nov 22, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Timofey Mozgov (20) dunks the ball against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the third quarter at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
The Los Angeles Lakers broke their two game home losing streak with an impressive win over Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder
In a game in which the Lakers led for the majority of the time, Russell Westbrook’s monumental fourth quarter performance nearly brought the Thunder to victory.
It took collective strong performances from the Los Angeles roster to compensate for both Westbrook’s presence as well as the absence of point guard D’Angelo Russell, who sat out with a sore knee.
It was definitely a tighter contest that most had anticipated after watching the first three quarters of play, but Westbrook (as most superstars do) took over the game in the final period and nearly sent the Purple and Gold packing to Oracle.
Nonetheless, a combination of blind luck as well as balanced play helped LA earn their eighth victory of the season. Here are three takeaways from the Lakers’ surprising win.
Nov 22, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Jose Calderon (5) brings the ball up court against Oklahoma City Thunder forward Andre Roberson (21) during the third quarter at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
1. Jose Calderon Stepped Up in D’Angelo Russell’s Absence
There’s no replacing D’Angelo Russell on this roster, even when considering his relatively subpar play as of late; simply nobody else on the roster can organize the offense while able to create his own shot offensively like Russell can.
With that being said, Jose Calderon did an admirable job after being thrust into the starting lineup on Tuesday, having a well-rounded 12 point, 6 rebound, and 4 assists effort in 22 minutes.
Calderon made 4 of his 5 three point attempts, all of which were spot-up shots. In the event Russell misses any more games, Calderon should be a serviceable replacement for the time being.
Nov 22, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Nick Young (0) celebrates after a play during the first quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
2. Swaggy P Comes Through in the Clutch
While playing a team-high 29 minutes, Nick Young scored six baskets, none of which were more important than his game-winning three pointer to cap off a win over the visiting Thunder.
Yooooo Nick Young straight up stole Lou Williams’ pass and hit a fade-a-way FTW — definition of SWAG https://t.co/fW400yyuLs
What’s funny about the game-winner is the fact that Young actually stole a pass that was intended for teammate Lou Williams.
Nonetheless, he faded away from well beyond the arc and hit the game’s dagger. As games go by, it’s looking more and more likely that Young will become the team’s permanent starting shooting guard after concerns that his hot shooting would die down.
Nov 22, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson (6) brings the ball up court against Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jerami Grant (9) during the fourth quarter at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
After a horrendous 1-12 performance against the Bulls on Sunday, Jordan Clarkson had a much more effective and well-rounded outing against the Thunder, posting a stat line of 18 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists in 26 minutes of play.
Though he forced up a few low-percentage shots toward the end of the game, Clarkson showed an ability to get to the rim at will and dictated the flow of the game for the majority of his time on the court.
The combination of Clarkson and Lou Williams remains the best bench duo in the league, and their play will continue to be essential in contests against tight competition.
LA will be in for another test with back to back games against the Golden State Warriors, but considering their recent success against the former champs, it’ll be interesting to see how the Lakers respond to a roaring Oracle crowd.