Random dribbles on the Los Angeles Lakers following their 96-94 home loss to the Miami Heat on Saturday.
1. Last night was the first time I watched LeBron James and thought, “Man, LeBron is looking old.”
2. Well, guess what? At the age of 36, LeBron is old in terms of basketball years.
3. Just typing that sentence makes me feel even older. My birthday is Monday, and I now sort of hide from them — as opposed to celebrate them.
4. Anyway, I’m not criticizing LeBron. No man is that stupid. I’m just saying there are nights when age will prove to be “undefeated.” He may not be able to carry a team to the Finals on his own anymore. He probably needs Anthony Davis. And hey, who wouldn’t?
5. Not having point guard Dennis Schroder Jr. hurts the Lakers too — especially with their lack of backcourt depth. But Schroder is one of those players who looks a lot better simply because of LeBron. (Like Rajon Rondo last year, compared to this year.) Davis is a superstar all on his own.
6. What I’m saying is LeBron and the Lakers can make due without Schroder. They can find a way to win until he returns. I’m not so sure you can say the same about Davis. Without him, it’s gonna be real tough to beat anyone who’s actually good.
7. Davis is a pure joy to watch and someone on the Lakers who can offset Kevin Durant if, ya know, the Lakers and Brooklyn Nets should meet down the road. (Though it should be noted Durant has historically won those matchups.) Everyone knows what is coming with Davis, but he is just too athletic and tall for anyone to stop it.
8. The Lakers have lost two straight and this was a bad loss. Miami is clearly better than its record, and Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo can just take over games. The Heat will be much better in the second half. But the Lakers needed to show themselves they could beat a quality opponent without AD. They haven’t done that yet.
9. Instead, they lost two in a row at home. They were blown out of the gym by the Nets, and while the Lakers didn’t have Davis or Schroder, the Nets didn’t have Durant. You could make a strong case that Durant is now the best player in the NBA. Either way, the Lakers needed a “bounce-back” win at home and couldn’t get it.
10. James quickly left the court after Alex Caruso‘s game-tying jumper hit off the rim at the final buzzer. He made no excuses after scoring 19 points on just 7-of-21 shooting.
11. LeBron on what’s next: “I think that’s what it all boils down to, and right now is another challenge for me, to be able to adjust. Not having AD for a long period of time is something that we haven’t had over the last year and a half, and now it’s time for me to adjust again and see ways I can be even more effective to help this team win ballgames. Because that is the sport that we’re in.”
12. LeBron wasn’t finished. “We’re in the winning business, and I’ve always been a winner,” he said. “So, it’s time to click into that.”
13. Basically, LeBron isn’t the same physically as he was even two or three years ago in Cleveland. But he is right — he is a winner, and he still has the skills, the mindset and the ability to lead the Lakers. Overall, there is no reason to be concerned in LA.
14. That said, they will need Davis. Having Schroder back won’t hurt. But Davis and LeBron is how you repeat as champs. On the bright side for the Lakers, not having him will give everyone else an opportunity to step up and gain valuable experience in some meaningful moments.