The Lakers earned their fourth victory of the season while handing the Phoenix Suns their 6th loss of the year. It’s always fun to pick on a terrible defensive team like the Suns, especially when we end the game with all our reserves on the court. Our stars played like stars and we finally got a glimpse of what Jodie Meeks can bring to this bench. Sunday’s game against Houston should be a good test to see if these Lakers are turning a new leaf defensively; plus Coach D’Antoni will be making his Lakers debut which will definitely have the Staples Center abuzz. Anyway, here are the grades for last night’s victory:
Darius Morris: B
Solid game for Darius in which we finally saw glimpses of what the young point guard can bring to this team off the bench with his hustle and defense. Not to mention, the young fella had some nice assists, especially his sweet bullet pass to J. Hill for a wide open dunk right before half-time. I’d like to see Darius coming off the bench when we need to pressure the ball against the top point guards in the league.
Kobe Bryant: A-
Another rock solid game from the Mamba while leading the Lakers with 31 points. I love watching Kobe control the tempo of games as well as set up guys like he has been, averaging over 6 assists in the last four games. Would have given Kobe the solid A if he had more rebounds to show, but it must be tough to grab boards when you have Dwight Howard down there. Should be interesting to see how Coach D will use Kobe once Nash is back running the show. Regardless, Kobe has been playing terrific, efficient basketball.
Metta World Peace: A-
Great all-around game for Metta as he continues his hot shooting from beyond the arc. MWP has been playing in control and is taking advantage of what defenses give him instead of forcing things. Metta knows he must shoot well from the 3-pont line as well as post up smaller defenders and get easy buckets in the paint. Also nice to have a legitimate tough guy on your team who will never back down from a challenge.
Pau Gasol: B
As I predicted before the game, Pau came out on fire to start the game last night. He started 5-5, hitting that 18 footer with ease. He also had some nice passes, especially his late game no look pass to Dwight that really capped off the night and ended the contest. While Pau is picking it up offensively, his softness in the paint is constantly putting the Lakers at a disadvantage when it should be our biggest advantage. When Dwight grabs a rebound, he snatches it out of the air and squeezes the life out of the ball. We saw Pau, at least twice, try and tip the rebound over to Dwight or Jordan Hill instead of snatching it out of the air like he can and should. For all his technique and skill, I still find myself wishing Pau use his size more and show some of the toughness he showed during the Lakers’ championship run three years ago.
Dwight Howard: B+
Typical night for Dwight, chipping in 18 points while grabbing 12 rebounds. Need to see him cut down on the turnovers, though, as he is still getting stripped of the ball when he’s making his move to the basket. Four blocked shots is a great sign that the spring in his jump is returning.
Jordan Hill: A-
I love watching J. Hill play; a possession is never over when he’s in the game. By that I mean, when a shot is missed and there are three defenders surrounding him, I’m still confident in the fact that Jordan will either get the rebound, tip it to a teammate, or make the opposition’s life miserable in the paint. I know I sound like a broken record when I say this, but I LOVE the Hill/Howard tag-team down low.
Antawn Jamison: B-
As usual, gotta love the effort from Antawn, but the production is still lacking. Antawn needs to cut to the basket and crash the offensive glass instead of hovering near the 3-point line. He and Jodie Meeks are the backbone, offensively, to our bench
Chris Duhon: C-
Duhon didn’t make an impact on this game whatsoever. Still, I’m curious to see how he will fare once D’Antoni starts running the show and relying on Duhon’s previous knowledge of the system
Jodie Meeks: B+
In 10 minutes of play, we saw more from Jodie Meeks than we have the entire season so far. A very pleasant and much needed surprise for Lakers fans and it should continue to get better for Meeks once D’Antoni starts letting him fire away. Nice to see Meeks respond after playing so poorly and getting killed by everyone in Laker Nation. Keep it up, Jodie.