Players Grades: Lakers vs. Raptors

by 24USATVApril 3, 2024, 10:01 a.m. 23
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Two nights after a game where they didn’t fully take care of business until late and had absolutely no help from the bench, the Lakers completely flipped the script against the Raptors.

It was the first half that was a little too topsy-turvy before a second half where the game was blown wide open. And the bench scored 38 real American points in the process!

You could hardly draw up a better penultimate game of the road trip ahead of Wednesday’s second night of a back-to-back. The Lakers positioned themselves very nicely to finish this road trip 5-1, which is about as perfect as you could have realistically drawn it up.

So, let’s grade the win. As always, grades are based on expectations for each player. A “B” grade represents the average performance for that player.

There are a lot of things Rui has excelled at since entering the starting lineup. However, perhaps my favorite is how well he plays off of LeBron James-Anthony Davis actions.

For example, there was a play in the second half where LeBron and AD ran a pick and roll. On the weak side, Rui cut behind his defender to the basket, received the pass and dunked it home.

It’s the little things that he’s improved upon and that helps get easy buckets like that.

Another uber-efficient performance from LeBron. But easily the most important part of this is him playing under 30 minutes. His status for Wednesday’s game is not set in stone, though head coach Darvin Ham sounded optimistic he’d play, but more than anything, he seems to really be ramping up toward the postseason.

I’m not entirely sure why AD has seemed more eager to shoot 3-pointers of late, but it hasn’t really been efficient. Over his last 12 games, he’s shooting 30.8% from the 3-point line on 2.2 attempts per game.

Overall, he’s 8-26 in that span, a number buoyed by his 3-8 performance against the Bucks. Outside of that, he’s 5-18 (27.8%), which isn’t good. I suppose you could take out his 0-4 performance on Tuesday and make a similar argument, but it just hasn’t really felt like he’s been better.

But I’m nitpicking a bit. AD is still dominant and incredible.

Reaves is in another 3-point shooting slump this season. While he did finally make one on Tuesday, over his last four games, he’s just 2-20 from the 3-point line.

But he still remains a positive player despite those shooting struggles. It’s just suboptimal to see him in another slump.

Who doesn’t love a little D’Lo heater, even if it was in a game that was effectively already decided? His little run did effectively secure that LeBron and AD would not need to come back in, so it was a big positive.

Also, getting him back to firing on all cylinders ahead of the postseason would be very nice.

A five-rebound, five-assist night from Prince? Is this the Twilight Zone? A great showing for him off the bench after a really bad one against the Nets.

Admittedly, I had reached my breaking point on Dinwiddie when he opened this game missing back-to-back open 3-pointers. I was questioning a lot of things.

But he bounced back very nicely and knocked down a number of shots. Kudos to him. But he needs to keep doing this.

I get that there probably isn’t room in the rotation for him when Gabe Vincent is active, but there’s zero reason he shouldn’t be next in the pecking order. And, more specifically, ahead of Cam Reddish.

On top of that, there are bigger questions to be asked about how big of a role he could and should have next season. He seems really ready to take a bigger role and a leap.

I don’t know how Hayes was walking in the second half, let alone capable of throwing down a dunk that literally made me get out of my seat. It was as unexpected as it was remarkable.

For that alone, he deserves a great grade.

For their sake, I won’t grade either of these guys despite getting a bit over six minutes of action. And I don’t want to make too sweeping of a judgment based on limited garbage time opportunities, but Maxwell Lewis hasn’t exactly popped off the screen much this season.

Another night when there wasn’t a lot to examine in a blowout. I actually liked the use of his challenge because it was a pretty high-impact call. It was either AD’s third foul or an and-one and it came on a block-charge call that doesn’t seem to have a ton of consistency.

You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.

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