Lakers Notes: James, Davis, Vanderbilt, Russell, Wood

Lakers All-Stars Anthony Davis and LeBron James submitted good-but-not-great outings in L.A.’s 114-103 Game 1 defeat against the Nuggets on Saturday, writes Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times.

Guided largely by the efforts of those two stars, Los Angeles led Denver by as many as 12 points in the first half. James had 27 points on 10-of-16 shooting from the field and 4-of-5 shooting from the charity stripe, along with eight assists, six rebounds, a steal and a block. He also turned the ball over seven times.

Davis scored 32 points on 12-of-23 shooting from the floor and 8-of-9 shooting from the foul line. He also grabbed 14 rebounds, dished out five assists and blocked four shots.

No other Laker scored more than 13 points. Woike notes that Denver enjoyed distinct advantages in offensive rebounding and combined second-chance and fast-break points, which also seemed to help make the difference.

There’s more out of Los Angeles:

  • Backup Lakers combo forward Jarred Vanderbilt is in a walking boot as he continues to deal with a right foot injury, per Khobi Price of The Orange County Register (Twitter link). Los Angeles head coach Darvin Ham claims the boot is not a setback, noting that “everything’s still going to plan” with regard to Vanderbilt’s recovery.
  • Starting point guard D’Angelo Russell had been on a tear for much of the second half of the 2023/24 regular season, and seemed primed to avenge his forgettable showing in last year’s Western Conference Finals defeat to Denver with this first round rematch. He had a rough Game 1, however, scoring just 13 points on 6-of-20 shooting from the floor. Ham made a point to defend Russell after his uneven showing, per Dave McMenmain of ESPN. “D-Lo is a huge reason why we’re here in the first place,” Ham said. “I’m not going to bail out on my player just because he’s missing the shots that he normally makes. So same shots were going in against New Orleans [in the play-in tournament] and other games that he’s played in to help us get to this point. So it just wasn’t his night.”
  • Reserve Lakers big man Christian Wood is hoping to return in time for Game 3 of the series, when the action moves to Arena in Los Angeles, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). He has been sidelined since a February knee surgery. Ham, however, cautioned that Wood “still [has] a couple boxes to check” before he can come back in this series, according to McMenamin (via Twitter).
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