The Los Angeles Lakers have the best record in the NBA, they’re unbeaten on the road, and LeBron James and Anthony Davis are playing at a peak level, but coach Frank Vogel still sees room for improvement heading into their game on Monday night at the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Los Angeles improved their road record to 9-0 by winning the first two games of their seven-game road trip. They Lakers beat the Milwaukee Bucks 113-106 on Thursday, and the Chicago Bulls 101-90 on Saturday.
James, who is set to play in Cleveland for the second time since leading the Cavaliers to the NBA title in 2018, scored a season-high 34 points in the win against Milwaukee.
Davis scored a season-best 37 points against the Bulls.
The Lakers held Chicago to 33 first-half points, while building a 30-point halftime lead.
Los Angeles allowed the Bulls to get as close as 13 in the third quarter, a situation that Vogel would like to keep from becoming a trend.
In the final home game before the road trip, the Lakers let a 16-point halftime lead get away against the Golden State Warriors and lost 115-113.
“Yeah, we got to be better. That’s the simplest way to put it,” Vogel said. “We’ll learn from it and hopefully get better next time. Hopefully, we’re going to be up again by 20 or 30 at halftime at some point, and we’ll draw back on this experience knowing that we didn’t do well enough here, and we got to be better in the future.”
The Cavaliers pulled off back-to-back wins last week against the Brooklyn Nets, but were unable to extend their winning streak to four on Sunday night, losing at the Boston Celtics 141-103.
Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff pulled his starters after the Cavaliers went down 11-2 and Cedi Osman, Collin Sexton, Andre Drummond and Larry Nance Jr. each played 18 minutes or fewer.
“”We played as if we had arrived somewhere and that we didn’t have anything to prove,” Bickerstaff said.
Darius Garland remained on a minutes restriction for Cleveland and came off the bench for the second straight game on Sunday.
Garland, who came into Sunday averaging 16.3 points, missed eight games with a sprained right shoulder before returning Friday against Brooklyn. He shot 1-for-9 from the floor against the Celtics, including 0-for-6 from 3-point distance.
The Lakers showed on the first two games of the road trip that they can win different ways.
They made 19 3-pointers in the win against Milwaukee while scoring 32 points in the paint.
Against the Bulls, Los Angeles made just four 3-pointers, but scored 54 points in the paint.
Defense is what continues to impress Vogel, however.
“We have a lot of defensive talent,” Vogel said. “When we’re working together, when we’re connected, when we’re playing with a locked-in mindset, we’re very very difficult to score against.”
Lakers center Marc Gasol has been impressed with all aspects of the team in his first season in Los Angeles.
“Great guys that have the right attitude,” he said. “Great leadership, great coaching. All positive.”
-Field Level Media