Lakers Get Cold in Last Six Minutes in Loss to Portland

Rey Moralde —  January 5, 2017 — 50 Comments

The Lakers were like ice cubes in the middle of the Sahara. The Blazers took advantage of the Lakers clanking everything late. Portland won with the final tally, 118-109.

L.A. overcame cold shooting in the first quarter as they got to the line 15 times (making 13). The bench came in and got hot; they blazed through the second quarter (har har!) with 38 points. They got hot shooting from Jordan Clarkson and the Blazers had trouble with the combo of Tarik Black and Thomas Robinson. L.A. led by as many as 14 points but the halftime lead was reduced to 9 points.

Portland came back with an 18-4 run and it was a back-and-forth affair for a while. But I like what D’Angelo Russell did. He went to the post and made some great turnaround jumpers. He scored 10 of his 22 points in that all-important fourth quarter.

Unfortunately, that shot by Russell was the last field goal for a while for the Lakers.

Evan Turner took advantage of Lou Williams and was straight fi-yah in the fourth quarter. At the same time, the Lakers played like they were in the freezer for the next few minutes. L.A. went 5:09 without a field goal. On the other side, Turner, Damian Lillard, and C.J. McCollum couldn’t stop making shots. By the time Julius Randle made a lay-up, it was too late.

I question a bit of Luke Walton’s rotation choices. Would’ve liked to see more of Tarik/Robinson on the floor in the second half. Lou Williams got stuck against a hot Evan Turner (15 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter); it would’ve helped to have a better defender on Turner (Ingram?). But once again, panic reared its ugly head on the youthful Lakers core. They started putting up quick shots when they couldn’t get anything down. It was discouraging, to say the least. Yet another blown lead by the Lakers.

C.J. McCollum led Portland wih 27 points while Lillard (who played his first game in a while) scored 21. Turner (20 points) and Allen Crabbe (14 points) were able to counter the usually deadly Laker bench. In fact, Portland tied L.A.’s bench in scoring at 39. On L.A.’s side, Russell had 22 (although he went a gross 0/8 from three) while Jordan Clarkson had 21 points. Randle didn’t shoot well but he did finish with 17 points and 9 boards. We know Lakers were without Larry Nance, Jr. but Luol Deng was also scratched out. Brandon Ingram replaced Deng in the starting line-up. He played very well in the first half; that spin move in the first half he did was pretty.

Lakers continue to have a tendency to leave those three-point shooters; the players continue to melt on those back picks and those high screen-and-roll plays. Also, I wish that the Lakers would make an immediate change if they see a match-up problem (going back to Evan Turner here). On the positive side, they took care of the ball (11 turnovers). It’s too bad that their offense just… died in the last six minutes of the game.

The Lakers are 13-26. If you’re still looking for that 8th playoff spot, they are 4 games behind the Sacramento Kings for that ever-so-coveted spot. It’s too bad that this wasn’t a blowout either way; the Lakers are back at Staples Center tomorrow night as they take on the Miami Heat. This could be a schedule loss but the Miami Heat aren’t exactly a good team so they have a chance here.

Growing pains. That’s what the Lakers have to go through. And I don’t mean the Seaver family.


Rey Moralde

Posts

50 comments
LonShapiro
LonShapiro

A few notes of hope, inspite of another melt down against the worst defensive team in the league:


1. DAR continues to learn how to punish the small PGs who torment him on the defensive end. His posting up and banging on Lillard minimized the difference between the two players. It is up to Luke to let him do this until the other team takes out their small guard. (Unfortunately, Luke did not make this adjustment after Evan Turner started to kill Lou Williams.)


2. Randall made a great steal and fast break. He got pumped up and played pretty well the rest of the game. It's up to the coaches (and maybe a sports psychologist) to get him to give the same effort no matter what the score or how he's shooting.


3. Ingram again made some plays that show he might become the best of the young players when he "weighs more than 100 pounds" (according to the increasingly round mound on TNT). Ingram is already the Lakers' best perimeter defender, makes good passes, and can get his shot any time he wants.


I don't have any illusions about the young guys. They will be solid NBA players, maybe even get an All-Star appearance, but they are not transformational players. As I wrote after the Clippers game, when you compare the teams, the only real difference is the Clippers have two All-Stars and the Lakers have Mozgov and Deng. 


It's up to the FO to make a move that brings in a couple of really good players to take over these spots. If they do, the current team will be competitive with anyone except the Cavs and Warriors.

mattal
mattal

Vasheed, Darius, Horse and rr:  Great insight and I appreciate your feedback.  This is the reason why this site is so superior to others -- the unique perspective from other posters. 

Phoenix intrigues me because so many of their 'vets' have market value and hence they have all avenues of improvement available to them: the draft, cap/free agency and trades.  The Lakers have less cap flexibility (see Mozgov/Deng), still owe multiple picks and our vets may not be as attractive in terms of garnering real return.  We have in many ways caste our lot with Randle/Clarkson/Russell/Nance/Ingram.  



mattal
mattal

I was hoping for less posts about commentators pointing fingers at each other and more posts in comment to my prescient observation about who could possibly be our biggest challengers in the western conference in the future: the Phoenix Suns.  

The Suns have taken a different path, in terms of their development than the Lakers: just letting their kids play (with minimal input from vets 30 and older).  And yet, as of today they are tied with the Lakers in the standings.  

The West has the potential to be loaded in the future with all the talent that the emerging teams have: Lakers, Utah, Denver, Min and Phoenix.  Obviously things could change but you could see a real intense fight in the west when GS, SA and Houston begin to fade and the afore mentioned teams begin to ascend. 



A Horse With No Name
A Horse With No Name

@mattal Good posts, man.  Definitely a team to watch.  Weak (read cheap) ownership probably keeps them from rising to the top.

Darius Soriano
Darius Soriano moderator

@mattal I wouldn't necessarily agree that the Suns have taken a different path. Their roster construction is somewhat different due to the fact that they long ago acquired a "franchise" player in Eric Bledsoe and then traded for Brandon Knight as part of the Isaiah Thomas trade to Boston. Looking at their minutes played, Chandler and PJ Tucker are 34 & 31 respectively and 4th & 5th in minutes played. Bledsoe (27) is 2nd & Booker is 1st. 


For the Lakers, Deng (31), Young (31), and Lou (30) are 4th, 6th, and 7th in minutes played. Randle, Russell, Clarkson, and Ingram are 1st, 5th, 2nd, & 3rd. And in the last few games, Russell has played over 30 minutes each night.


Also, Bender's not played in 7 games and Tyler Ulis has not played in 14. Chriss has played every night, but is averaging under 18 minutes. In other words, I think the Suns approach has been pretty similar to the Lakers, but with a less utilitarian approach -- Bledsoe, Booker, and to a lesser extent Knight all have the green light. The rest of the guys are, to some extent, role players. They too are looking for one of their young guys to be a true star (Booker may have that potential; fans certainly like him) and Bledsoe was pegged for that but has not yet made an ASG and, as noted, is 27 now. If you ask me if I'd rather have the Suns young players or the Lakers, I'd say the Lakers even though I think the Suns young guys also have really high ceilings. 

Vasheed
Vasheed

@mattal

Sorry if getting a bit off topic.  Although there is something to having a few vets around.  I'm specifically thinking of the Wolves who have a lot really good young talent but seem to lack the veteran presence to steady the ship.  

I think the Suns have a mix similar to the Lakers of vets and youngsters.

new rr
new rr

@mattal


Phoenix is doing OK for a team in a rebuild, but I am not that impressed with where they are. Bledsoe is a pretty good player, but has an injury history and is 27. Knight is just OK and is 25. TJ Tucker, who is 31 and has a PER of 9.7, is third in minutes played. Booker is cool and fun, but he has a 12.6 PER and a negative VORP right now after a lot of people raved about him last year. Bender and Chriss are sort of like Ingram--too young to expect much, but I don't think either of them is scaring anyone. 


Phoenix is 1-16 in games decided by 10 or more, whereas the Lakers are 7-13. 


That said, you can argue that Phoenix is in better shape than the Lakers are because of the Deng and Mozgov deals and because of the Lakers' reliance on Young and Williams. But the bottom line for me is the point Lowe raised in his recent piece on the Lakers: the Lakers do not appear to have a Porzingis/Towns/Embiid type guy right now, much less a Giannis Antetokounmpo (GA is a week younger than Julius Randle) and having a guy like that is the key to a rebuild. I think the same is true of Phoenix. Like the Lakers, they have a lot of "intriguing" young players with some nice skills, but no guy that you can look at right now and say, "Yep." 











Alexander_
Alexander_

This forum is sinking to the same level as LakerNation...armchair quarterbacks ready to trade because it's the season...what happened to the growing pains we were all ever so giddily predicting and excited to wait through? We have an insanely good 10-10 start till the injuries and the crazy bad schedule, and the team should be blown up? If this exciting group of youngsters developing together don't meet your expectations in their first ten weeks of the season, go root for the Celtics, the Suns, or anyone else, somewhere else

Pop and Mitch, two of the league's best talent assessors rave about Randle, a 21yo do-it-all beast with barely a full season under him, and some want to trade him for a bag of chips. Ingram is having the struggles we all predicted, but also is a better defender and ball handler already than we expected he'd ever be, and he's a "potential bust". D'Angelo gets hurt, he's 20 with talent shining everywhere, but for some of you not gonna be an NBA caliber guard. Yet all three were part of the USA Select team, a better predictor of future success than any poster here myself included, with all due respect. We have enough backup young talent in Nance, Clarkson, Black, even TRob, for one of the league's best 2nd units, and it matters not.  

If you're done because a specific trade doesn't happen, that's like the tree falling in the forest in a galaxy far away. No one cares.

Alexander_
Alexander_

PS: This is not a criticism of Darius, who runs my favorite blog on the net btw, just recent postings

Vasheed
Vasheed

@Alexander_ I think livefyre solved some of the old problems like spoofing but, created some new ones with more things getting up without moderation.


A Horse With No Name
A Horse With No Name

@Vasheed @Alexander_ livefyre overall has made the site much more lively and engaging.  The "like" feature is a really easy way to acknowledge the good comments of others without taking time to write a response.  

A Horse With No Name
A Horse With No Name

"Comment section invaded by a dummy. Halp."-- DS twitter.  Running a board can get painful.

LordMo
LordMo

Are we going to resort to name calling really. Show some maturity please?

LordMo
LordMo

Darius while its your board and I respect that. Just because you run a board does not mean you know more about basketball than I. I can safely say I have forgotten more about basketball than you will ever know. I played and coached at many levels my man. Again I am going to overlook the personal attacks but show some class my man and tolerance for those who do not agree with you....shows maturity

Darius Soriano
Darius Soriano moderator

@LordMo Nah. Not today, Mr. "everyone should be on the block for Noel/Okafor" guy. LMAO. People say dumb things, they get called dumb. If that breaks one of the commenting guidelines at the site I've run for 7 years, so be it. You're out here throwing up senseless trade speculation anyway, so I doubt you care about the guidelines to begin with. Bye. 

Kareemez
Kareemez

@LordMo For someone whose posts consist mainly of pessimism and hot takes, you have a very inflated sense of self. Exhibit 1. Russell is not performing Magic Johnson or LeBron levels of excellence at their same age, therefore, he is a bust. It is hard to take your levels of hyperbole seriously. I read some of your posts and just shake my head. But everyone is entitled to their own fandom. Doesn't mean I (or others) have to care for it.

Darius Soriano
Darius Soriano moderator

@LordMo Haha. I'll keep this simple: I disagree with commenters a fair amount, but rarely call them dumb. RR, for example, is someone who I respect but do not always agree with. He posts smart commentary that is rooted in good observations both statistically and by what he sees. So, even if I don't agree, I can respect the perspective. You, regardless of how much basketball you've "forgotten" (and it seems like you have forgotten a lot), don't do that and instead say things that come off as dumb. If you want to not be called that, stop being it. Sorry, bud. Them's the rules. 

LordMo
LordMo

@Kareemez


I never said DLO was a bust...show me one post where I said that. What I have said is he is out of position and that he would be better off at the 2 where he could "catch and shoot" and have better defensive match-ups that will utilize his height & length. He is not athletic enough to cover the PG's in the NBA period and he will never really be a good defensive player but a player than will have to "Offensively Dominant" to truly be a star (like Dirk). No reason he can't become that player and I hope he does. Also, show me one post where I called for a trade for Okafor? I know I want Noel because he is the "Defensive Plus" you need to go with Randle who is a "Defensive Minus" and also skewed towards offense. Again kind of like Dirk who needed Tyson Chandler in the front court with him to truly succeed. So show me where that is pessimistic? Seems pretty dead on to me. But I don't have my "Fanboy" goggles on like most of you guys do. In terms of my inflated self...when you have coached 2 teams to the National AAU "Final Four" and have a kid that was Nancy Lieberman 3-Point Champ & Free Throw Champ back to back... and she herself shook your hand and complimented your coaching... Well ... yeah!

LordMo
LordMo

@Darius Soriano


Bro... No need to keep anything simple for me so that is for your own edification I guess. Like I said run your board bro. Again I will take the high road and not resort to name calling because there is no need. In terms of my posts I sure time will prove me right like it has in the past.

mattal
mattal

I think we should all keep our eyes on Phoenix. I was in Scottsdale prior to the holidays and I took in a Suns game.  They played the Rockets and lost but you could see the potential in that truly young team.  They are led by an equally young coach in Earl Watson. With their win last night they are tied with the Lakers in the Western Division standings.  They have all their own draft picks and are currently under the cap. 

They have an even younger core than the Lakers: Alex Len (23), Devin Booker (20), Marquese Chriss (19), TJ Warren (23), Dragan Bender (19) and Tylerr Ulis (21) are all 23 or younger and get 10+ minutes a night. They have contributing vets that are young as well in Eric Bledsoe (27) and Brandon Knight (25).  Their oldest contributor is Tyson Chandler and he has value should they choose to move him.

At this stage the team and fans are identifying Devin Booker as the team leader.  In a pregame ceremony he was honored for his work in the community.  On the floor his game is developing.  He loves to shoot from outside but also drives to the basket with authority.  He had two dunks out of offensive sets that night in addition to another in transition. He's a very likeable player.



mattal
mattal

rr:: I missed the game but saw the box score late last evening and noticed the number of times Russell and Randle got to the line. I have heard the comment as well, that the number of FT attempts can differentiate good from great players.  This is a facet of Russell's game that has been missing and hopefully is one that is reflective of his evolving confidence to enter the lane and or welcome contact.

LordMo: I was also bummed that the FO was not involved with the Cavs' need for a SG/SF.  I believe the Korver deal brought the Hawks back a 1st round pick. Korver is much older than Young but he's also more consistent and brings significantly less baggage/drama. So a team would have reservations about taking on Young despite his resurgence this year. But I agree with your point, the FO should be actively looking to move any non-core piece, meaning Young, Williams, Mozgov and even Black should be available. I can't fathom how Deng could ever be moved.  




FredP
FredP

At the beginning of the season, I thought the Trailblazers were a good model of young player development for the Lakers.  I still think that is true, but look at their record.  They have the superstar in Lillard to build around and several very good players.  And yet they had a terrible December.  They have been aggressively building around a young core and are well coached and yet they still struggle. The bottom line is that young teams take time to develop.


The Lakers will keep "blowing" games if they continue to slow down the pace at the end.  Their insistence on rolling the ball on in bounds plays guarantees that they will always play against set defenses.  They need to keep up their pace and force teams to adapt to them instead of the other way around.

_DPeterson_
_DPeterson_

I'm sure it's been said on this board before, but it's pretty apparent the Lakers need a closer. An alpha player who's not afraid of the ball and can actually put it in the basket or get to the line when the game's on the line. None of the players out there right now looks like that guy to me. I know -they're young, growing pains, maturity, etc. But even projecting another year on DAR, Julius, Ingram, I still don't see it.

LordMo
LordMo

Dont say that on this board! Don't you know DLO & Julius are going to be great players? The league is just marking time until they rule them all! Yes...sarcasm is alive and well lol. Like I said I see some All-Star years but if the Lakers rest on their kisters thinking that they have all the talent they need then get ready for years of low if any playoff seeds.

KevTheBold
KevTheBold

@_DPeterson_

Name one 20 year old 'closer' in the nba, or, since your time limit generously gives Russell one more year,.. how about a 21 year old.

While you are at it, to refine your search, take into account a coach who preaches a 'share the ball' sermon.

The point is, we don't know who is who, and what is what,.. we can only predict on flashes, and those flashes indicate that we may have what we need, already there.

It may also be that we have several, or that the team becomes a tight cohesive unit in which they all step up when injuries or bad shooting nights occur.

Judging young players based only upon bad games or bad stretches in a game is unfair and biased.

LordMo
LordMo

Magic Johnson! 42pts, 15rebs, 7asts closeout game NBA finals with no Kareem.

Darius Soriano
Darius Soriano moderator

@LordMo Yes, one of the top 5 greatest players ever who is also retired. I don't think we'll wait to hear who one is now or whether you actually expect one of the Lakers' current young players to be one of the top players of all time. Again, please, think before you comment. It will do us all a solid. 

LordMo
LordMo

@Darius Soriano


I think my point is they do exist and currently the Lakers do not have one. That guy in Cleveland was pretty good when he came straight out of high school. He had his team in the NBA Finals @ 22.

Darius Soriano
Darius Soriano moderator

@LordMo @Darius Soriano Again, if your point is that Russell/Randle/Ingram don't look like they'll be as good as LeBron James and then knocking them for that, I can only laugh and say "okay, man". To be disappointed or use it against players for not being as good as someone who is a 4 time MVP and viewed at the time he was drafted as one of the most can't miss prospects ever...I just don't even know what to say to that besides, no wonder you're down on players! Haha.

LordMo
LordMo

@Darius Soriano @LordMo


Nope again your wrong. I know they will never be as good as LeBron...we all know that or at least some of us do. I am hoping they develop into good All-star level NBA players. But young "SuperStars" do exist Darius and the kid on the Bucks is an example of that. The Lakers young players are talented but have holes in their games. Time and instruction will work some of that out but you cannot teach athleticism and neither Russell or Randle are elite in that category. So, they will have to make it up in skill nothing wrong with that use what you got. Ingram is too young to be in the league and like I said previously needed another year in school so he is like 2 -3 years away at this point. But my point is and has always been that this is a flawed and incomplete roster and the record shows it. I seek a trade only to balance it out because we are stockpiled with guards.

Darius Soriano
Darius Soriano moderator

@LordMo @Darius Soriano This is the last thing I'm going to add to this thread, but I think it's interesting that you say the Lakers don't have a Giannis type while in the same comment saying Ingram shouldn't be in the league and is 2-3 years away from being a player. Giannis is in his 4th season and when you look at his numbers his rookie year you see production which is very similar to Ingram this year.


My point isn't to say Ingram will be the next Giannis, it's more to point to your hard & fast conclusions about players as young as the ones the Lakers employ while at the same time touting a guy who looked to have some potential, but far away from it when he came into the league as young as the Lakers' lottery picks all did. The short sightedness and idea that you have some monopoly on foresight is laughable to me.


As for balancing the roster, I'm fine for balancing the roster. I'm fine with actively looking to improve the team for the long term. How that occurs and what the best way to accomplish it is a worthwhile discussion. What I'm not fine with is saying "a player will never be..." when the player in question is 19 or 20 or 21. Because even if that ends up being true, saying it now with certainty is foolish. Too many factors go into a player developing and improving and finding ways to be effective to put a ceiling on a player at this stage of their career. 

LordMo
LordMo

@Darius Soriano @LordMo


Ingram needed another year to mature his body it is not NBA ready I think we all agree on that. Not questioning his talent I actually like the kid's game because out of all the young players he is the only one who plays both ends of the court. But he truly is not physically ready for the NBA. I speculate he came out when he did because this draft is really loaded and he would have not been a top 10 pick. I do not knock him for it...smart move on his part in terms of dollars. He took advantage of a weak draft and it paid off for him...congrats!

_DPeterson_
_DPeterson_

@KevTheBold Fair enough. I'm receptive to your points. I probably just get a little carried away with years of Laker expectations. It's hard to be patient, particularly when we've been accustomed to stars whose talent jumps off the screen at you. These guys have shown flashes for sure, but the lack of mental acuity troubles me. I don't yet get the sense any of these guys except Ingram has the IQ to control a game. And when rings are the goal, team cohesiveness is nice, but you still need at least two guys who can take over and have the head to how to do it. Like I said, i know they're young, but I'm just not seeing it yet. Time will tell, and I hope I'm wrong.

david__h
david__h

darius:  growing pains for sure. the usually reliable shooting Lou Williams went cold (and/or was not getting the benefit of ref calls); consequently yanked due to his usual poor defensive liabilities and there went the ballgame. agreed, would have also liked to have seen a robinson/black tandem or at least either one for their rebounding skills late in the game.  for now at least, must be tough deciding to showcase your lottery picks and coming up short.  He's a coach, not a magician.

Go lakers





LordMo
LordMo

(edited for trade speculation)

LordMo
LordMo

Amen brother keep preaching!

KermitWashingtonKilla
KermitWashingtonKilla

@lordmo I've been saying this the last month: Clarkson/Randle/Black/Lou/Swaggy should all be on the trade block going forward. Package together however you wish and send us back a 2017 picks in loaded draft or Noel/Okafur. We have pieces but they don't all fit and compliment each other. All the front office has done in 2 years is pick the consensus #2 pick and make we hit the bottom cap floor ala the Deng/Mozzy signings. The FO has been so complacent

LordMo
LordMo

My theory on the 2nd round picks is Jimbo gets involved with the lottery picks because those are high profile but Mitch is probably left alone to do his job after that hence we have drafted well late.

new rr
new rr

After going 17/33 from the arc against Memphis, the team went 10/31 tonight, with Young and Russell going a combined 3/17. Portland shot .531 from the floor, even though they did not have a huge night from 3, either, hitting 12/33. 

The Lakers as per Bask Ref are allowing an opponent FG% of .478 and a 2P% of .532, and are last in the NBA in both categories. The team will keep losing as long as that is the case. 

But, one important positive number: Russell and Randle got to the FT line 22 times, 11 each, hitting 19. Getting to the line a lot is a huge skill for high-end offensive players, and team D and getting to the line can keep a team in games and lead to wins even when the 3s are not dropping. Will be watching to see if they can do that with more consistency. 

LordMo
LordMo

Nice post @rr u stat guru!

new rr
new rr

@LordMo


Heh. I just use Bask Ref and NBA.com. Helps to see basic things. DAR getting to the line 11 times is key, though--if he can start getting to the stripe, that will really boost his development. 

KermitWashingtonKilla
KermitWashingtonKilla

Enjoyed seeing the continued aggressive play leading to 27/33 from the stripe. The first half (like Tuesday) showed us again what this team looks like when on fire from deep: fast paced offense leading to an effective chaotic defense. Like so many 3rd quarters and overall games prior, when the offense slows, the defense follows, resulting in ISO ball. I would like see more development of some go-to offensive sets when possession tighten up late in games going forward. Overall lots of the same.

LordMo
LordMo

Agreed, Luke really should know that. The GS offense is always in "go-to" mode because they have great perimeter players. We however need to tweak the sets to match our strengths. U have a 6' 5" PG should have had him taking Lillard to the blocks all night long. But at least Luke has started giving the crunch-time minutes to the younger players. They need that experience and you can't get that from the bench.