NBA DAILY DRIBBLE: Lakers put on a show in LA for LeBron James


NBA results, March 12, 2018

Toronto Raptors 132 – New York Knicks 106

Chicago Bulls 129 – Atlanta Hawks 122

Minnesota Timberwolves 109 – Golden State Warriors 103

Utah Jazz 116 – New Orleans Pelicans 99

Denver Nuggets 130 – Sacramento Kings 104

Houston Rockets 105 – Dallas Mavericks 82

Indiana Pacers 99 – Boston Celtics 92

Philadelphia 76ers 120 – Brooklyn Nets 97

LA Lakers 127 – Cleveland Cavaliers 113

Three things that happened in the NBA today

1. LA Lakers campaigned hard for LeBron James

The last time the LA Lakers faced a player they were trying to woo, they ended up blowing out Paul George and the OKC Thunder. So, it’s no surprise that with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in town, they put on a show.

This wasn’t just any surprise blowout by the Lakers like in past years. There’s so many layers to this blowout that needs to be unpacked.

– Cleveland’s defense looked awful once again. They allowed 127 points on 50% shooting. The Lakers continuously found open players because the Cavs D felt like a 2K game where the other player just dropped their controller mid-possession. What a difference a month makes. Last month everyone was hailing Cleveland for their overhaul. Now, even with new players, the Cavs look more or less the same.

– The Lakers showed James just how good they can be. The Lakers have only lost five times since the start of January. They’re a strong 11-5 in February and March so far. Against the Cavaliers, they had 30 assists which showcased their improved offense under coach Luke Walton. Somehow, this win against Cleveland feels more legit than shocking. James thought so too.

– Julius Randle was a beast. He finished with 36 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists. He bullied the undersized Cleveland frontline all game long. It’s ironic though that in order for the Lakers to be able to sign two max free agents, they have to part ways with Randle. It’s interesting to see what they do with Randle playing so well this year.

– Isaiah Thomas had some measure of revenge. He finished with his best line as a Laker, 20 points, five boards and nine dimes in the win. He torched the Cavaliers in the fourth quarter when the Lakers started to pull away for good.

Does this mean the King is coming to LA? Not necessarily. But it definitely didn’t hurt their chances.

2. Indiana moves to third in the East

This loss by the Cavaliers to the Lakers finally opened up the way for someone to take over their third seed in the East. Throughout the season, several teams have been trying to knock them off their precarious perch. Early on the Miami Heat and the Philadelphia 76ers were running to the top. Then the Washington Wizards tried with a strong run in January. Finally, the Indiana Pacers did what several teams failed to do.

The Pacers won their game against the the Boston Celtics to take the Cavaliers’ third spot. Victor Oladipo led the way and was unstoppable in the clutch. He hit a three-pointer to put the Pacers up by seven with three minutes left in the game. He then scored on a strong drive to drive the dagger on the Celtics with a little over a minute left to seal the win.

3. Golden State struggles without Curry

Two games against two of the top four teams in the Western Conference have resulted in two losses for the Golden State Warriors. It’s been a rough three-game stretch for them as they lost Steph Curry but got the win over the San Antonio Spurs. But they’ve suffered back-to-back losses to the Portland Trail Blazers and now to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Kevin Durant is trying his best. He’s put up 40 and 39 in the past two games. But his offense is offset by big performances from opposing All-Stars. This time around it was Karl-Anthony Towns that had a big game against the Warriors.

These are tough losses since the Houston Rockets have bounced back from their streak-snapping loss and are now 1.5 games ahead of the Warriors in the standings.

Did an NBA superstar get ejected today?

No. But Anthony Davis balled out and got a triple-double on his birthday with 25 points, 11 rebounds and 10 blocks (!!!)

Happy birthday Brow!

Photo from Getty Images

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