NBA Rundown Week 8: LA Lakers establish championship credentials, Andre Iguodala spices up trade window and more
Bits and bobs from another week in the NBA gone by
Lakers have brushed aside opponents in 24 of their 27 games so far, leading them straight to the top of the league standings in the West.
In the rarefied air at the top of the table, they can see far out to the East, where staring back at them is the form of Milwaukee Bucks.
The Lakers, having not made it to the Playoffs for the past six seasons, are finally looking like the storied franchise with 16 titles.
For one wobbly half in Miami, LeBron James looked like an average NBA player. Almost human. He turned over the ball seven times, not to mention he was able to make only four of his 11 shots.
“I was reckless,” he admitted in the post-game interview on Friday. His recklessness seemed to be afflicting the high-flying LA Lakers too. At one point, they were trailing the Heat by 14 points.
In the second half though, a different, sharper LeBron showed up. The result: the Lakers rallied to overturn the 51-59 half-time deficit into a 113-110 victory. The Lakers are now 24-3 this season.
“My teammates got on my ass," LeBron said. "They told me you’re playing too passive, thinking about the game way too much instead of reading and reacting and doing what you do,” while talking about Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.
With LeBron doing what he does, the Lakers got around to doing what they do: brushing aside opponents. They’ve done that in 24 of their 27 games so far, leading them straight to the top of the league standings in the West. In the rarefied air at the top of the table, they can see far out to the East, where staring back at them is the form of Milwaukee Bucks — currently on an 18-game winning streak.
The Lakers, having not made it to the Playoffs for the past six seasons, are finally looking like the storied franchise that has 16 Championship banners embellishing their stadium. While a rejuvenated LeBron — getting extra rest between seasons after not featuring for the first time in the Playoffs since 2004-05 — is one of the reasons behind this resurgence, Anthony Davis — on whom the Lakers bet the house in the off-season — has looked exactly like a man playing without the burden of lugging the whole franchise past the tape.
In the mega spotlight that comes with playing in Hollywood, Davis' star is shining brighter than ever. LeBron faced similar pressure last season at the Lakers, when he had a young support cast around him.
Yet, it would be churlish to brand the Lakers this season as a two-man team. They have seen exceptional performances from their support cast, particularly Alex Caruso, Rajon Rondo and the reborn Dwight Howard. This in turn has led to the Lakers putting together a 14-1 run on road games this season, which has in turn led to the Lakers having their best start in 34 years.
Still the season is yet young. And as any Lakers legend will tell this Lakers team, it doesn’t matter how the Lakers start a season. It’s how they end it.
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On a poor shooting night for both teams, the Lakers were able to depend on James and Davis down the stretch. James and Davis combined for a run of 15 points late in the fourth to take the lead to 92-83 with 31.1 seconds left.