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The Los Angeles Lakers fell again to .500 on the season after losing to the L.A. Clippers, 119-115.

Despite having LeBron James back in the lineup, the Lakers (now 12-12) still had a sluggish start to the game on both ends of the floor. Frank Vogel started Russell Westbrook, Talen Horton-Tucker, James, Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard, so the floor spacing didn’t threaten the Clippers at all.

The Clippers started to build a solid lead near the end of halftime, but the Lakers went on a quick 10-2 run to make it 53-50 after 24 minutes.

Basketball is a game of runs, and that summarized the second half. For every run the Lakers had to try to take the lead, the Clippers responded and maintained the advantage.

Despite Malik Monk and James stepping it up in the fourth quarter, defensive breakdowns allowed Luke Kennard to drill heartbreaking 3-pointer after heartbreaking 3-pointer, capped off by Marcus Morris’ deep 3-pointer that called bank, to seal the victory.

Here is how the Lakers graded individually in a game where the squad never led:

Russell Westbrook: D-plus

Russell Westbrook faced off against former teammate Paul George, but the intensity from Westbrook never materialized. He finished with a quiet 10 points and nine assists, but he made both of his 3s to help boost his grade.

Still, the Lakers needed Westbrook to leverage his rim-attacking abilities more to break the Clippers’ zone defense, but that never happened.

Talen Horton-Tucker: D-minus

Talen Horton-Tucker made his usual tough shots near the rim, but he failed to help in the 3-point department. He missed four of them, including ones that were wide open. His decision to take an off-balance stepback 3-pointer after missing his previous three was a poor decision.

 

LeBron James: D

James looked lethargic for most of the game. He didn’t seek to get involved that much until the fourth quarter. Until then, he strolled around with a feeble 12 points.

He finished the game with 23 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and two steals, but his shot was inefficient (9-of-23 FG, 2-of-8 3P), and he got overly aggressive on defense that led to easy points for the Clippers in crunch time.

Anthony Davis: C-minus

Anthony Davis stuffed the stat sheet with 27 points on 10-of-15 shooting, 10 rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block, but he didn’t assert his dominance as much as he should’ve. But, to be fair, the lack of adequate floor spacing around him certainly hindered his ability to succeed in that regard.

He made 7-of-11 at the charity stripe, and those misses could’ve swung the trajectory of the game, especially the crunch-time ones.

Dwight Howard; D-plus

Dwight Howard got his first start of the season after impressing off the bench against the Sacramento Kings, but he didn’t help much. He had six points, five rebounds, two assists, one steal and a block in 21 minutes, but his fit as a starter didn’t flow well with the stars.

Malik Monk: B-plus

Malik Monk didn’t have a perfect game, especially on defense, but his scoring in the fourth quarter was the reason why this game stayed close in the end. He scored all 20 of his points in the second half, and 14 of them came in the final 12 minutes.

Monk attacked the rim and scored, drilled 3-pointers and worked well with LeBron in the pick-and-roll game. Unfortunately, his late-game heroics didn’t help get a win.

Carmelo Anthony: B

Carmelo Anthony did what he needed to do off the bench. After struggling with his shot in recent games, he bounced back with 13 points and five rebounds on 4-of-6 shooting overall and a 2-of-2 clip from deep. The Lakers probably should’ve tried calling his number more late in the game.

Wayne Ellington: C-plus

Wayne Ellington played 20 minutes, but his best stretch came in the final two minutes of the first half. He drilled two 3s playing with the stars, showing how his shooting prowess could break the Clippers’ zone defense. Unfortunately, Ellington didn’t get many opportunities to shoot after that.

Austin Reaves: D-minus

Austin Reaves played only nine minutes in the game. His only points came on a lob, but he missed his two 3-pointers and his only free-throw attempt.

Source : https://lebronwire.usatoday.com/lists/lakers-player-grades-clippers-lebron-westbrook-anthony-davis-paul-george/

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