Lakers Make Statement In Denver

Them boys WERE amazing, Bron.

Jim Rome
February 13, 2020 - 11:43 am
LeBron James

USA Today

Categories: 

Without looking at the standings, who’s the number one seed in the Western Conference? The Lakers. Without looking at the standings, who’s the number two seed in the Western Conference? The Nuggets. So it would stand to reason that LA going to Denver last night would be a huge game. And it was. The number one seed versus the number two seed in Denver right before the All-Star break was about as big as it gets for the Association in February. 

The Lakers had already beaten the Nuggets in their house earlier this season, so another win in Denver would be a massive statement.

And no one had to tell that to the legend himself, Alex Caruso, quote:  "I could tell they were locked in pregame. LeBron had his jersey with like 80 minutes to go before the game.”

A lot of teams coast into the All-Star Break. It’s really tempting. It’s something you have to really fight against. And the Lakers did just that. Going into Denver and beating the Nuggets 120-116 in overtime after being down 13 earlier in the game. 

LeBron James knew what time it was: "I was trying to be laser sharp, laser focused as I could. I know the break was coming, but I wasn't going to take this opportunity for granted. I wanted to play extremely well tonight for our ballclub and I wanted us to play extremely well going into the break on a high note. And our team, we responded very well."

And LeBron backed it up with 32 points, 14 assists and 12 rebounds for his 12th triple double of the season. 

Again, Denver was up big in the second quarter and it looked like they were on the verge of running the Lakers out of the building. That is until Monte Morris hit a three to give the Nuggets a 13 point lead. And then he started yapping at LeBron. 

That’s never a good idea. Because the Lakers went on a 25-8 run to close out the half. And it would be easy to point to that as the turning point, because it the Nuggets didn’t already have LeBron’s attention, they did after Morris starting running his mouth.  Because LeBron started doing things like this in the third quarter:

Throwing it down, with authority. It bears repeating, but the fact that LeBron is playing at this level, with this intensity and with this type athleticism at this point in his career is truly ridiculous.  It’s absurd.

But last night wasn’t just about Monte popping off to LeBron and paying the price. It was about Anthony Davis going for 10 rebounds and 33 points, including 7 in overtime. 

But if you want to talk box score numbers, lemme hit you with this: 

Dwight Howard: 14 points, 11 rebounds 

And about this? 

Alex Caruso: 10 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and a plus-23 in 22 minutes. 

And I know the plus/minus stat is flawed. It just is. You know how I know this? Because it doesn’t do Caruso justice. He was a force last night.  

Don’t take my word for it, ask who would know: longtime Lakers broadcaster Stu Lantz.

And don’t even think about coming up in here and saying Caruso’s numbers were inflated because he was doing it against the second unit. He wasn’t. Who was on the floor to set a crucial screen in overtime to free up Anthony Davis?  You know the answer: Alex freaking Caruso.

And who was on the floor in the final 30 seconds of overtime and who was making the crucial closeout to shut down a potential game-tying three? Alex Freaking Caruso. Roll it.

The Carushow is the best show in late night, but he isn’t just about the highlight plays. He’s not only about the putback dunks or the monster drives through the lane to humiliate an opponent. Like all the greats, he focuses on the little things as well.

Alex Caruso isn’t just an energy guy, he’s a difference maker. You want instant offense, he’ll give you that. You want awesome defense, he’s got that too. What I’m saying is that since Damian Lillard is unable to play in the All-Star Game this weekend, the league has a chance to right a wrong by putting Caruso on a plane to Chicago. 

Let the world see this young king.  

Frank Vogel knows what he has. And if you aren’t watching on TV, and you can only hear the audio, trust me: Vogel is smiling when he answers this question. Because he knows what’s up.

My only disagreement is with the word “secret” in front of “weapon.” Lethal weapon, yes. Secret weapon, no. He’s a flat out weapon. If anyone in this league still thinks AC Fresh is a secret, that’s on them. Not him.

Jared Dudley knows. He tweeted: Shout out Dwight Howard and the GOAT, Alex Caruso, for staying ready! They both change the game tonight! If I told you we would be 41-12 1st in the west at the all-star break, you would say we right where we need to be! #Lakeshow

LeBron retweeted that with: Facts!! Them boys were amazing!!

Them WERE amazing. And that team’s chemistry is amazing. They battle for each other. Just ask the GOAT, Caruso: "There's never been egos on this team. I mean, you can see it in the videos and pictures. That's not fake chemistry. It's not phony. We're not just doing it because there's a camera in front of us. We genuinely enjoy hanging out with each other, cracking jokes and then playing basketball."

And that was a huge win for the Lakers going into the break. They’re five games up in the loss column. They have a 2-1 season series lead over the Nuggets, with both wins coming in Denver. And they’re feeling it. As Avery Bradley said: "I think in a way, they’re already defeated, seeing that we already beat them twice on their own court." 

Bam. That is some spicy talk for mid-February. But he’s not wrong. I don’t know if Denver is defeated by that, but you know the Lakers WILL have a ton of confidence if they have to face the Nuggets in the playoffs.  

Then again, they have a ton of confidence any time they step on the court and Alex Caruso is there. I do it every single day, but for the rest of you, GIVE THIS GUY SOME BLEEPING CREDIT, I MEAN, FOR REAL.