The Lakers put on a nice show for the Staples Center faithful on Friday night while improving to 8 – 8 on the season after defeating the Denver Nuggets. From the opening tip it was evident that Dwight Howard was going to dominate the game on both ends of the court. Tonight was a true break out night for the two Lakers who will have to carry the bench for the year: Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks.
The energy was definitely present for the Lakers at home, but they have yet to consistently carry that same energy on the road if you don’t include the blowout in Dallas. The team will have a 3 game road trip next week so we will see if this energetic play carries over.
Two negatives from the game were the lack of transition defense and the amount of points in the paint that Denver had (60). Also, bring Robert Sacre back from the D-League because big plays just aren’t the same without the kung-fu master. Here are the grades for last night’s W:
Darius Morris: C+
Outshined by Duhon’s good game, but Darius did a nice job against two solid, yet drastically different players in Ty Lawson and Andre Miller.
Kobe Bryant: B+
Not a great game for Kobe, but he went back to playing maestro in this offense which is exactly what he needs to do for this team to be successful until Steve Nash returns. Whenever the Lakers needed a bucket, Kobe was there for a mid-range pull up jumper that he makes look so easy.
Metta World Peace: B-
Not a great night shooting for Metta, but he brought the defense and energy as usual. With Jordan Hill playing less minutes, the Lakers need Metta to bring the hustle every night as he has been doing so far.
Pau Gasol: B
It’s obvious that Pau is thinking too much instead of relying on his natural talent and instincts. Also, he has become much more of a facilitator, even when Dwight is not in the game with him. After complaining that he wants more touches in the low post, Pau still sets screens and hovers to the perimeter instead of demanding the ball down low. If the Lakers are to win a championship this year, they need Pau to fit in and play like the All-Star he is.
Dwight Howard: A+
The most dominant we have seen Dwight Howard as a Laker thus far. He came out and attacked on offense and defense against a Nuggets team that has decent big men. It was tough to give Dwight the A+ when he was 3-9 from the free throw line, but that’s just the chink in the armor that Lakers fans will have to live with.
Antawn Jamison: A+
I can’t see Antawn playing a better game than he did against the Nuggets as he was on fire from start to finish. I did not think Antawn was a great 3-point shooter, but he did hit 5 of 10 three’s last night en route to 33 points off the bench.
Jodie Meeks: A
Jodie caught fire early and pulled the trigger whenever he saw daylight. He went 7 – 8 from the 3-point line and had his best game as a Laker thus far. I’m curious to see if Jodie can carry his hot shooting on the upcoming road trip.
Chris Duhon: B+
Great game from Chris Duhon as he kept the tempo fast paced and helped set up many of the open shots that Jamison and Meeks got. It will be interesting to see if Duhon gets more minutes than Steve Blake when he returns considering that Duhon is bigger than Blake and can defend strong point guards like Andre Miller.