If their win against the Hawks on Friday night is any use, it looks like the Lakers are turning the corner.
The comfortable 134-118 victory is the team’s fourth-best in a row of the season and leads the Lakers to 21-19 on the season, the first time they are two games above .500 since Dec. 17.
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Five players scored in double figures for the Lakers as the team scored 17 3-pointers with an efficiency of 41.5 percent, which are big jumps from their season averages of 12.1 and 35.1 percent respectively. On defense, they had 14 steals against one of the best offenses in the league and scored 28 points from the Hawks’ 15 turnovers.
All of this without Anthony Davis, so there was a lot to celebrate with this Lakers win.
LeBron James continues his superhuman streak
In 36 minutes of playing time, LeBron James filled the stat sheet with 32 points, nine assists, eight rebounds, four steals and three blocks on 13 of 24 shooting from the field.
Can you believe those are numbers recorded by a player who just turned 37? Well, The King is making it believable. According to StatmuseJames is the first player since 1975 to have logged at least 8/30/8/3/3 when he was over 34 years old.
At 37, LeBron is the oldest player in NBA history to have 10 games in a row with 25 points 🤯
Happens to Michael Jordan, who did it at 34. pic.twitter.com/r0QE3TnX3o
– ESPN (@espn) January 8, 2023
With this game, the Lakers improve to an undefeated 5-0 when playing center while averaging 127 points per game. It’s not just the numbers, James continues to entertain with some stellar dunks.
While he presents spectacular stats, he attributes the team’s recent success to the guys returning to the lineup.
“It’s that simple … We’re starting to see what we have because the guys are in the lineup.” James said after the game.
Malik Monk bursts in as the best of the season
Malik Monk is enjoying the best season of his career with the Lakers in what is his fifth year in the league, especially in the recent stretch as a starter.
Against the Hawks, the 6-foot-3 shooting guard broke out with 29 points, the most of the season, with 21 of them coming from beyond the arc.
Malik Monk since he started (6 games):
55.4% of GF
49.0 3P% in 8.2 attempts
Has a minimum veterinary contract. pic.twitter.com/nemPpIwXy3
– StatMuse (@statmuse) January 8, 2023
This game brings his season average to 12.1 points per game, the highest of his career. He is also shooting a 48.1 percent running efficiency from the field and nailing a career record of 2.1 triples per game at a pace of 39.7, which is not far behind his career record of 40.1 percent.
– NBA (@NBA) January 8, 2023
Glimpses of the Horton-Tucker Promise
After some really tough games during the month of December, Talen Horton-Tucker put together a great game against the Hawks.
In 30 minutes, he scored 21 points that included a personal 10-0 streak at the end of the third quarter when the Lakers really started to walk away from the Hawks. Along with that, he also dished out five assists on 7 of 13 shots from the field.
Team play on both ends
37 assists. 14 steals and only eight turnovers. Those are numbers that most of the time lead to victory.
Like his 3-point shooting, these numbers are a big step in the right direction from the team’s season averages: 24.6 assists (10th best), 8.4 (7th best) and 15.3 turnovers. (26º).
“We know if we don’t beat ourselves we can be tough to beat,” head coach Frank Vogel said after the game. The Lakers give up an average of 17.2 points from turnovers, which places them 25th in the league.
The challenge for the team now would be to maintain this level of play and they have a great test on Sunday to do so when they host the Memphis Grizzlies, who have won seven straight games.