Anthony Davis as the expected leader, but it was D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reeves, or even Dennis Schroeder who gave AD a nice birthday present yesterday against the Raptors’ Scotty Barnes and Obi Wan Anunobi. Without LeBron James or Russell Westbrook, it looks like the Lakers are (finally) having a cohesive and moving team… It’s time to tell you from the inside, as TrashTalk was in LA this Friday.
Brie Feraud, Los Angeles
This Friday night, Anthony Davis’ 30th birthday will be the subject of discussion… the next day. A wonderful intention to think of him. At the same time, it is difficult to avoid this lately. Darwin Ham draws the first one, right before the match, very comfortably: “30 is a more important age in a career for the big ones than for the little ones. He takes LeBron’s advice, but when he plays at the level he is now, I see a bright future for him … “Except that the issue of age hurts very quickly. Evidence: His presence is declared “probable” provided that his right leg injury does not wake up, according to protocol. Because AD this year it’s injuries that make him assist. Ham, he bets on his group: “This is a league that needs a big squad. I have such. What we are aiming for is rebounding and good assists, and Schroeder is helping us a lot on that last point.”
At 1:30 a.m. from the start, while it’s raining heavily outside, Phil Handy, an assistant who says quite regularly that he wants to be a head coach, is warming up on the court. He will then play a fundamental role in preparing for the match. He does his video seminars on the computer from the bench, then creates confrontation situations on the ground to create contextual ranges where he hangs his arms, challenges, rubs. First with Lonnie Walker IV, then with Austin Reeves. Back with more ambition, D’Angelo Russell warms up alone, with headphones over his ears and no smile as Rui Hachimura and Reeves weed themselves out, hilariously. Troy Brown Jr. discusses it at length with his evening guest, Hannah Alattar, NBPA Science Adviser. Disguised and disguised, she appears next to a bald mountain and in shorts, wearing her oversized Metta World Peace 37 jersey. This is how the Crypto.com arena goes. Next to Maria is worried. In Spanish: “Tonight I really want everyone to see what D’Angelo Russell can bring us, people don’t get it. This is the best deal of the year… With Malik Beasley…” Beasley immediately scores points by presenting himself to fans on a huge screen with his favorite song “My 1st Song” by Jay-Z. The Lakers bench is empty. Everyone is in the locker room. All but one man: Darwin Ham. 2 minutes of staring at the Raptors players to gauge the forces involved. Mystical.
Jump ball won easily, and D’Angelo, a force who wants to win right away… but who investigates mishaps when Pascal Siakam and Jarred Vanderbilt hang around: -12 (10-22) in 6 minutes. Today the King is not sitting at the end of the bench yet. Dead time when we find out on screen that James Worthy and Pau Gasol have the same average scores with the Lakers (17). D’Angelo Russell then takes matters into his own hands and attacks the basket in the center. Reward basket. Ham saw this shortly before the match: “He gives us more information about pick-and-rolls and with his three-point quality, we are very lucky to have him. Then Austin Reeves comes into play. Hachimura connects to three points and changes dynamically. -4 in the first quarter (31-35).
The second quarter in the form of rise AD The Raptors still lead by 15 points, but the energy of the evening is on the side of the Angelinos. 4 more points 5 minutes before the break, the engine decides to go into anniversary mode. Screens, rebounds, cons and dunks on the go. The room pushes him more than the others. Before D’Angelo Russell took control of the dragster with a double stop and then a three-point shot. Hachimura and Reeves brought the team up to +8 (70-62 at halftime).
In the attic, in section 308, it was the turn of the franchise band, the Lakers, to play March Madness on about twenty brass instruments. Guaranteed effect… On the other hand, not on Tino, who still has a slightly tensed jaw. The kind of rather resentful life freak who only finds pleasure in the title… Come on, Tino, breathe: what’s good about this exchange deadline? “Well, this is not a debate, is it? Westbrook left, which is great, he slowed down the team with his profile … “
The third quarter is full of inaccuracies when Scotty Barnes or Anunobi don’t relax. Sudanese Wenyen Gabriel returns and helps himself. And then the noise from the Lakers tunnel. A huge creature limps out of the hallway with its tire. The fans are smiling. He’s a legend, he’s come: Mo Bamba! In spans, the player causes misunderstanding. Lonnie Walker IV out of rotation: “Lonnie needs to play more,” says Brian. “He creates rhythm with the teamwork that he used with the Spurs. His size can work in many rotations…” On the Raptors side, the team plays Texas-style passing. It should be noted the beauty of the gesture, the excellent balloon … in the throw for Pascal Siakam. Nugget. Coincidence? I’m not sure: the teenager shot too short during a three-point match. When he finally touches the ring correctly, the room explodes. Minutes later, another champion will strike from midfield to land a giant check. He finishes 4 meters from the basket. Genius. – 5 (85-90) at the end of the quarter.
Last quarter. Reeves continues his festival in the lead: penetrations, lay-ups, ball steals and three points: the walls are shaking. Incredible MVPs fall down to greet the joy that Reeves has managed to create as soon as he touches the ball like the new Caruso… An atmosphere of madness fills the room. Insults against the referees fall from the stands. 5 minutes after the end, AD signs its return. Scotty Barnes appears at the free throw line and is booed. After 1 minute, he throws a three-point basket in front of the Lakers bench, to which the lodger turns. Outside of D’Angelo’s timeout, Russell does his best before being heavily abused by Schroeder (23 points) due to a dangerous placement. A 122-112 victory, holiday favors are falling from the ceiling (for winning the regular season: a madness that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wouldn’t appreciate) and the team is more united than ever and still has to be proven. But what potential… D’Angelo finished the evening with 28 points. AD, with 7 shots, 8 points and 9 rebounds, he will play a different role than usual. What if this limited discretion allowed him to limit his risk of injury?
Darwin Ham will end the evening with a smile: “This is a festive night. It was a big game. We used our bodies well to keep Siakam and Barnes from walking. AD was muzzled, that was their plan, but with the numbers he usually lines up, it made sense. Today we did everything to win. “Austin Reeves will analyze more precisely at the press conference: “This is the space that he frees up for us, gives us the opportunity to film. Also, I have D’Angelo telling me all the time to be aggressive and be myself. We have good energy, we make efforts for each other, I find … ” D’Angelo Russell, the convinced hero of the evening, remains a philosopher: “I used to have no confidence here, I was young, and now I must instill confidence in them … As for A.D., he is such an altruist, it’s crazy! The journalist talks about the excitement and hype that the team causes in the city after LeBron’s record and the arrival of new recruits. Darwin Ham laughs: “Yes, yes, like this, coach or players, in the dressing room, what we think is our prey …” Before leaving with more laughter. As they say: the team lives well. “We have exploding fans here, we need to apply some energy. No bullshit, just be positive. There we fight for each other…”