Luke Walton ushers in a new era for the Lakers
The LA Lakers have transformed; ever since Kobe Bryant retired and Coach Luke Walton came aboard, there has been a sense that the Lakers would have to evolve in some way to survive, and looking at the NBA lines, they seem to have done just that.
The Lakers began their season by beating the Houston Rockers 120-114 on Wednesday. Jordan was on the court in the fourth quarter where he scored 13 points. With D’Angelo Russell’s 20 points and Julius Randle’s 18 points, this not even taking into account all the assists and rebounds, the Lakers were in a great position to overcome Houston’s James Harden’s 34 points and 17 assists.
Walton understands how the game works; he gained firsthand knowledge of how to guide a winning team by working under Golden State’s Steve Kerr as an assistant. Walton has every reason to feel good. His people really put their best foot forward on Wednesday night.
The goal of Walton isn’t to merely win games; they need to build a whole new culture and an identity. The game wasn’t exactly perfect for the Lakers who almost lost their win near the end.
So Walton still has a few kinks to work out. The nerves and excitement are always a problem, not only for the players but for Walton who can do little more than watch sometimes. Luckily for Walton, his father Bill Walton was around to give him support.
The 2014-2015 seasons were brutal for the Lakers who suffered a great many defeats; last season saw them undertake their worst campaign in a very long time. Clarkson helped give the team a boost when his pair of free throws pushed the Lakers to 108-104 (with 6:41 to play).
That lead didn’t last long, with Harden’s conversion of two foul shots bringing Houston’s score to 110 (with 3:53 left). Russell jumped into the fray soon afterward, using a pair of free rows to bring the Lakers to 113-112. This was with 2:47 left.
Sufficing to say, the game was tight and neither team was willing to give an edge. The Rockets took the lead fairly early on, connecting more shots than the Lakers by the half time mark.
Things could have taken a very nasty turn if Walton’s team hadn’t accepted the challenge and manifested a determination to push back.
The absence of Kobe Bryant hasn’t helped the Lakers’ situation; Kobe has been with the team for decades. Winning a game like the one against Houston is essential for them to rebuild.
The game was high profile enough to attract spectators like Jack Nicholson and Denzel Washington. Commissioner Adam Silver was also present in the crowd. Expectations were mixed before the game began.
No one was quite sure how the Lakers would perform against the Rockets.
Elsewhere, the Miami Heat were more than happy to silence detractors by beating the Magic in Orlando despite the departure of Dwayne Wade.
The Oklahoma Thunder are still struggling to adjust after the departure of Kevin Durant. Luckily for them, Russell Westbrook appears to be a formidable enough replacement for the superstar, helping the Thunder overcome the 76ers; though the Thunder still have a few complications to overcome. Durant’s absence will be felt for quite some time.