If their win against the Hawks on Friday night is anything to go by, seems like the Lakers are turning the corner.
The comfortable 134-118 victory is the team’s season-best fourth in a row and takes the Lakers to 21-19 for the season, the first time they have been two games above .500 since Dec. 17.
Five players scored in double figures for the Lakers as the team knocked down 17 3-pointers at an efficiency of 41.5 percent, both of which are big jumps from their season averages of 12.1 makes and 35.1 percent respectively. On defense, they recorded 14 steals against one of the league’s best offenses and scored 28 points off the Hawks’ 15 turnovers.
All this without Anthony Davis, so there was plenty to celebrate from this Lakers win.
LeBron James continues superhuman stretch
In 36 minutes of playing time, LeBron James stuffed the stat sheet with 32 points, nine assists, eight rebounds, four steals and three blocks on 13-of-24 shooting from the field.
Could you believe those are numbers recorded by a player who just turned 37? Well, The King is making it believable. As per Statmuse, James is the first player since 1975 to have at least recorded 30/8/8/3/3 when aged more than 34.
With this game, the Lakers improve to an undefeated 5-0 when he plays at center while averaging 127 points per game. It’s not just the numbers, James is still entertaining with some stellar highlight-reel dunks.
While he’s putting up spectacular stats, he’s crediting the recent team success to guys returning to the line-up.
“It’s that simple…We’re starting to see what we have because guys are in the lineup,” James said postgame.
Malik Monk erupts for season-best
Malik Monk is enjoying a career-best season with the Lakers in what is his fifth year in the league, especially in the recent stretch as a starter.
Against the Hawks, the 6-foot-3 guard erupted for a season-high tally of 29 points with 21 of those coming from beyond the arc.
This game takes his season’s average to a career-high 12.1 points per game. He’s also shooting a career-high efficiency of 48.1 percent from the field and nailing a career-high 2.1 3-pointers per game at a clip of 39.7, which is not far off his career-high of 40.1 percent.
Glimpses of Horton-Tucker’s promise
After some really rough games through the month of December, Talen Horton-Tucker put together a great game against the Hawks.
In 30 minutes, he scored 21 points which included a personal 10-0 run late in the third quarter when the Lakers really began pulling away from the Hawks. Along with that, he also dished out five assists on 7-of-13 shooting from the field.
Team play on both ends
37 assists. 14 steals and only eight turnovers. Those are numbers which more often than not lead to victory.
Similar to their 3-point shooting, these numbers are a huge step in the right direction from the team’s season averages – 24.6 assists (10th best), 8.4 (7th best) and 15.3 turnovers (26th).
“We know that if we don’t beat ourselves, we can be tough to beat,” head coach Frank Vogel said postgame. The Lakers give up an average of 17.2 points off turnovers, which ranks 25th in the league.
The challenge for the team now would be to maintain this standard of play and they have a great test coming up on Sunday to do that as they host the Memphis Grizzlies, who have won seven straight.