On Tuesday night, the Lakers beat the Celtics 117-102 at Staples Center. One of the last times I get to type that title, I'm going to enjoy it. Mmm. Staples Center.
Last night may have been the best example of the Lakers big 3 sharing the floor but importantly, sharing the load.
What did James do? He was his usual floor-general self. He scored 30 points on 13-19 shooting. 2-5 from beyond the arc, 5 assists. His efficiency is what really helped the team. He understood he didn't need to drop 11 assists--he shot when he was open and drove when the lane was there. He helped space the floor and may have played his best defense of the season. This is what the Lakers will need from James, is the balance. He should hopefully not have to drop 30 points a game, but it was there for him.
Russell Westbrook had arguably his best game in LA last night. His defense last night cannot be overstated. He frequently fronted Jayson Tatum and hounded Tatum. He even got in front of him and straight up stole a pass that was intended for Tatum in the post. Westbrook also dished out 11 assists on only 4 turnovers. His offense was beautiful because he frequently drove into the lane with success and either scored, or he dished. That included this play of the year so far for Westbrook.
Westbrook did a lot of what James did in just letting the game come to him. With that much talent, the Lakers need this.
Last night we posted an article where I was fuming over Charles Barkley blaming Anthony Davis for his play. On that note, if one saw the box score from last night's game they could draw conclusions that aren't quite right. "He only took 13 shots." Criticism can't be done both ways--either the Lakers are sharing the ball well or they aren't. James and Westbrook were leading the way last night based on matchups, so Davis took fewer shots. He still dropped 17 and 16 last night. That's a good game by any definition. He let the game come to him the same way. 3 assists, 2 blocks, 2 steals to go along with 17 points and 16 boards. How much is enough? Davis played well, and as the kids say, "debate a wall."
The Lakers are going to beat teams by a big committee when they are good. The big 3 and Carmelo Anthony off the bench are going to contribute the most, and the role players are going to find their niche and spotlight, too.