At ‘9-1 in 10 games,’ Lakers emerge as PO dark horse

The Lakers’ rise has been remarkable.

The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 116-97 in the 2023-2024 NBA regular season at Arena in Los Angeles, California, on Sunday night.

With the win, the Lakers extended their winning streak to four games and moved into eighth place in the Western Conference. They closed the gap on the seventh-place New Orleans Pelicans 안전 토토사이트 to 0.5 games.

The one-two punch of LeBron James (24 points, 12 assists) and Anthony Davis (22 points, 13 rebounds) was solid, while D’Angelo Russell chipped in with 28 points and five rebounds.

Their opponent, the Cavaliers, played their best lineup of Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland, and Evan Mobley. However, the Lakers made short work of the Cavaliers and cruised to a comfortable victory.

It wasn’t just that game, but the Warriors’ recent surge. The Lakers are an impressive 9-1-1 in their last 10 games. The Dallas Mavericks are the only other team with a 9-1 record in their last 10 games.

The Lakers struggled in the middle of the season and struggled to compete in the playoffs, which is why they rebounded so dramatically at the end of the season.

A big reason for this is the presence of the unmistakable one-two punch of Davis and James. Both players are still among the best in the NBA this season. James is the focal point of the offense, while Davis is a dominant presence on defense.

James is still playing at his peak, averaging 25.4 points, 8.1 assists, and 7.3 rebounds per game this season, while Davis is showing signs of being an elite big man, averaging 24.8 points, 12.8 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game this season.

Even with Davis and James on fire, the Lakers have struggled at times, largely due to poor defense and the lack of a third option to back up James and Davis.

Austin Reeves was the only player who was consistent throughout the season, but that doesn’t mean he can be counted on for 20+ points every game. Reeves’ play also didn’t solve the Lakers’ lack of a three option.

That’s where Russell comes in. Russell was acquired by the Lakers at the trade deadline last season and played so well that he was re-signed by the Lakers after the season. However, Russell struggled early this season and saw his minutes dwindle. He was a regular in trade rumors.

But after the All-Star Game, Russell made a complete comeback. Russell has found his form and is consistently averaging over 20 points per game. After averaging just 10.2 points in January, Russell rebounded perfectly, averaging 22.7 points in February, 19.7 points in March, and 21.5 points in April.

As Russell has come alive, the Lakers’ powerhouse has emerged. They have James and Davis, who have been consistent every game, plus Russell.

There’s another piece of good news for the Lakers. Gabe Vincent is back after missing most of the season with an injury. Vincent, who played for the Miami Heat until last season, has been in a Lakers uniform since this season. However, he missed most of the season with a knee injury and didn’t live up to expectations.

Upon his return, Vincent is proving why the Lakers wanted him so badly. While he’s still struggling with his shooting due to matchup issues, his defense has been steady. Vincent is playing the role of the frontcourt defender the Lakers were hoping for. His defense has allowed James and Russell to focus on the offense.

No team wants to face the Lakers in the playoffs. The Lakers are a team full of veterans who have been through the wringer, and they also have two short-term superstars in James and Davis. The Lakers‘ recent play should have the top teams scared.

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