Glad I watched the second half of this game. I didn’t turn the game on until late in the first half, when things weren’t looking so good. Then everything changed in the second half and this Lakers team looked more like what I was hoping they’d be like under Byron Scott: a gritty team that is going to give 100% effort on most possessions. If the Lakers can play as aggressively on both ends of the floor as they did in the second half, they’re going to surprise a lot of people. This is the type of team I was expecting the Lakers to be with the type of coaching I’ve seen from Byron Scott. We’ll see if they can build on this and form an identity around what they did in the second half of tonight’s game.
I don’t have much time to write, but just wanted to touch on some key highlights for me. Carlos Boozer was the big surprise for me tonight. It was his best game of the preseason and probably the best game he’s had in a long while. He was aggressive on the offensive end, not settling for 18-foot jumpers. Boozer is a player who doesn’t quite make sense to me. He’s built like a damn linebacker, but plays like Steve Novak from 18 feet. With all that muscle you figure he could muscle his way deep into the paint pretty much anytime he wants. And you figure he could box guys out for rebounds. But he pretty much just shoots jumpers. What is that about? Anyway, tonight, Boozer played more like how he’s built. He also varied up his game, keeping his man guessing all night. Boozer needs to do this more if he hopes to have any sort of comeback. He also had 6 steals, which has to be a career high for him, right?
Ronnie Price wasn’t a surprise, because that is the type of stuff that Ronnie Price should bring to this team. That being said, Price did perform at a very high level tonight defensively. He also threw in 10 assists to boot (he may have gotten more assists, but I’m not gonna bother looking up the box score). Ronnie Price is the perfect energy guy off the bench. If he can bring this most nights, the Lakers have a great presence when Lin is off the court. Price and Boozer really lifted the energy level in the second half. It was quite a comeback to take the lead in the third quarter, being down over 20 late in the first half. And it was led by Price’s tenacious defense.
The other great thing to see was Randle playing with a lot of patience. He looked like a veteran out there tonight. He listened to Kobe and trusted his jumper, which helped open up his game. And he also had some nice passes. Randle could be a very good Point Forward. He’s got great handles for a big man. The key for him is to be selective about implementing his Point Forward skills. Not go overboard with showcasing it. But it’s a nice advantage to have a big man who can handle the ball like that–especially of that big man can rebound the ball. That way, he can bring the ball up on rebounds and hopefully catch the defense off guard. It’s not a big thing, but is a “nice-to-have” advantage.
Of course, Ed Davis continues to give the most consistent effort of any Lakers so far this preseason. I don’t know what else Ed Davis needs to do to prove that he belongs in the starting lineup. Every time Ed Davis is on the court he goes after it on both ends of the floor. The only thing Ed Davis needs to prove to me is if he can give the same amount of effort when playing 30+ minutes consistently. That’s what I want to see from him. But, unfortunately, I’m not going to see this, because I’d be shocked if the Lakers start Ed Davis over Jordan Hill, even though that’s the absolutely right decision.
The only hope I have for Ed Davis starting over Hill is that this is one of the few games in which Kobe played with Ed Davis and I saw that Kobe consistently looked for Ed Davis down low. So I am hoping that Kobe talks to Scott and tells Scott to start Ed Davis. I hope that happens, because Ed Davis starting is a difference maker.