April 12, 2018, 3:56 am
The Lakers defeated the Clippers 115-110 on Wednesday to end their season on a positive note.
The game had the feel of an exhibition — possibly due to the fact that many of the players occupying significant roles were in fact members of the NBA developmental league or G-league.
Los Angeles, the good one, was led by Josh Hart, who turned in an extraordinary performance with 30 points, five rebounds, five assists, one steal and a plus-9 rating while playing a game-high 36 minutes. He shot 9-of-15 from the field, 7-of-9 from the 3-point line and a perfect 5-of-5 from the charity stripe. Hart, the No.30 overall pick in this year’s draft, ended the season on a particularly high note, putting an exclamation point on an already stellar season.
Alex Ingram, the hero from the night before after being called up following a 10-year career in the NBA developmental leagues, was unable to duplicate his debut performance, finishing with five points, six assists, three rebounds, two steals and a game-high plus-23 on 2-of-9 from the field and 1-of-4 from 3-point range.
Instead, the hero of the day was Gary Payton II, known as the mitten due to being the junior version of his father Gary Payton, who went by the moniker “The Glove” during his illustrious NBA career. Payton II accrued an impressive stat line of 25 points, 12 rebounds, two steals and a plus-22 rating on 11-of-19 shooting from the field and 3-of-7 from 3-point range. Payton II, renowned for his length and defensive ability, looked comfortable on both ends of the court, effectively showcasing his developed skill set for the impending season.
Julius Randle, playing his last game before his Laker future is determined by restricted free agency, finished with six points, five rebounds and three assists in a short 17-minute stint. He appeared to be content to let his teammates enjoy the limelight. Randle ended the season as the only Laker to play in all 82 games, showing tremendous improvement across every facet of his game.
Alex Caruso excelled against lower-level competition, as he is apt to do, accumulating 15 points, seven rebounds, two assists and a plus-21 rating on 5-of-11 shooting from the floor and 3-of-4 from 3-point distance.
Thomas Bryant had his best game with the Lakers with six points, six rebounds, one steal and two rebounds on 3-of-8 shooting, though he did go 0-of-5 from 3-point range. Thomas is hoping to secure a role with the team next season with the Lakers expecting significant roster turnover.
The Clippers were led by mid-season acquisition Tobias Harris, who chipped-in 23 points, five rebounds, three assists and one steal. He also accumulated a minus-23 rating and three turnovers.
Boban Marjanovic, a talented but seldom used 7’3” big man, took advantage of added opportunity to tally 12 points and 10 rebounds on 5-of-7 shooting in only 13 minutes. If DeAndre Jordan chooses to opt out of the player option in his contract, Marjanovic may have a chance at a larger role next season.
Montrezl Harrell, who has taken advantage of added opportunity since the Blake Griffin trade, continued to impress with 15 points, four rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block.
Key Stats and Observations-
-The Lakers’ regulars struggled from 3-point distance and the free throw line all season. However, tonight their replacements demonstrated the ability to excel in those two areas, hitting 17-of-39 from 3-point range (43.6 percent) and 14-of-16 from the charity stripe (87.5 percent). In comparison, the Clippers converted 6-of-18 from deep (33.3 percent) and only 12-of-28 from the charity stripe (42.9 percent).
-The Lakers outrebounded the Clippers 49-41 on the glass.
-The Lakers played sound interior defense, gathering six blocks compared to only one rejection for the Clippers. The Lakers were led by Ivica Zubac’s three blocks, including two highlight reel stuffs on the same sequence.
-The Lakers led the league in points in the paint for the season but were absolutely dominated in that area in their final contest, getting outscored 64-38 by the Clippers.
The Lakers’ players head into an offseason that should begin with positive exit interviews, followed by an extensive training regimen.
Several players face free agency including Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Brook Lopez, Isaiah Thomas and Randle.
The Lakers have openly discussed their desire to add at least one star to their current roster, creating the necessary cap space to chase the likes of LeBron James and/or Paul George. They went as far as trading Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. to acquire the room to pursue such acquisitions. During that transaction, they added the first-round pick of the Cavaliers, which projects as the No. 25 overall pick in the impending draft. Free agency, league-high cap space and the draft will afford the front office ample opportunity to continue to improve this roster and attempt to return to the playoffs for the first time in over five years.
April 20, 2019, 12:48 amRussell Westbrook - G - Oklahoma City Thunder
Russell Westbrook out dueled Damian Lillard on Friday as he notched a double-double with 33 points, 11 assists, five rebounds, four triples and one block as the Thunder beat the Blazers 120-108.
The four threes were a welcome sight for Westbrook who described his play in this series prior to Friday night as "unacceptable." After being highly inefficient in the first two games, Westbrook shot 11-for-22 as he hit shot after shot in the fourth quarter to ice the win down the stretch. Oklahoma City will hope for more of the same as they look to even the series on Sunday.
April 20, 2019, 12:40 amPaul George - F - Oklahoma City Thunder
Paul George labored through a 3-for-16 shooting night to score 22 points (14-for-17 from the free throw line), six assists, six rebounds and two threes on Friday.
Friday's game marked the second time in three games that George has struggled with his shot, adding to the speculation that his right shoulder injury is holding him back. Fortunately for Oklahoma City, he stayed aggressive attacking the basket and was able to chip in 14 points from the charity stripe as well as his customary lockdown defense down the stretch.
April 20, 2019, 12:36 amJerami Grant - F - Oklahoma City Thunder
Jerami Grant scored a playoff career-high 18 points on 6-for-7 shooting also contributing four threes and two blocks in Friday's win over the Blazers.
Grant caught fire at the perfect time as the shooting woes that plagued Oklahoma City in the first two games disappeared on Friday night. He was one of five teammates to make two or more threes as Oklahoma City was able to cruise to a victory.
April 20, 2019, 12:32 amDennis Schroder - G - Oklahoma City Thunder
Dennis Schroder logged 32 minutes with 17 points, six assists, five rebounds, two triples and two steals on Friday night.
Shroder and the Oklahoma City guards were able to exploit Enes Kanter routinely in this one as the steady diet of points ultimately led to them notching their first win of the season. This group is much more confident at home – look for the same intensity as they attempt to even the series at two games apiece on Sunday night.
April 20, 2019, 12:27 amDamian Lillard - G - Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard had 32 points, six assists, three triples and two steals as the Blazers fell to the Thunder by a score of 108-120 on Friday night.
Lillard went back and forth with Russell Westbrook all night as the home team once again prevailed in this series. The animosity between these two makes for very entertaining competition. Expect Lillard to come out firing on Sunday as Portland has another opportunity to steal one on the road.
April 20, 2019, 12:19 amCJ McCollum - G - Trail Blazers
CJ McCollum did a little of everything on Friday night with 21 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, five threes and one steal.
After missing the end of the season for Portland with a left knee injury, McCollum is consistently posting huge lines in the playoffs.McCollum's play is a big reason why Portland is leading 2-1 in this series. Look for another strong night on Sunday in Game 4.
April 20, 2019, 12:12 amEnes Kanter - C - Trail Blazers
Enes Kanter scored 19 points on 9-of-14 shooting while adding five rebounds on Friday night.
Kanter had a good night scoring the basketball, despite a nagging right hand injury. Unfortunately for Portland, any good done by his offensive performance was undone on the defensive end as he was frequently targeted by the Oklahoma City offense and failed to offer much resistance.
April 19, 2019, 11:43 pmKyrie Irving - G - Boston Celtics
Kyrie Irivng contributed 19 points, 10 assists, five rebounds, three threes, one steal and one block in Friday's 104-96 victory in Indiana.
Irving has been sensational so far in the playoffs for Boston looking locked in and focused on setting up his teammates as he's notched at least seven assists in every game so far. After a season that led many to question his loyalty to this team it's good to see Irving step up and lead Boston.
April 19, 2019, 11:38 pmJaylen Brown - F - Boston Celtics
Jaylen Brown was a man possessed Friday night as he scored 23 points on 8-of-9 shooting adding seven rebounds, four threes and one block.
Indiana had no answer for the third-year swingman who got whatever he wanted and finally took advantage of his opportunity to start for the injured Marcus Smart. Brad Stevens remained patient after Brown struggled in the first two games of the series and was rewarded with a big night as Boston looks to sweep Indiana on Sunday.
April 19, 2019, 11:31 pmAl Horford - F/C - Boston Celtics
Al Horford had 16 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three threes, one steal and one block on Friday night.
Horford continues to provide Boston with a little bit of everything they need to win as evidenced by his plus-13, which was tied for a team-best mark. After struggling a bit in Game 2 as he shook off an illness, this statistical output was more in line with what we're used to seeing.