There’s no getting around it: the Lakers are bad right now. You can add the context of injuries, the league catching up with them, general youth, or any other number of valid reasons which contribute to the slippage and I’ll nod along in agreement. But, ultimately, the team has not been playing well enough to win and, at the end of the day, that’s why you play the game (*extreme Herm Edwards voice*).
Archives For Game Preview
The Lakers have lost 4 games in a row — a topic covered extensively in the latest podcast — so I won’t get too much into it now. Just know the team could really use a win, for no other reason than they have a couple of more games at home before going on the road again for 9 of 11 games before the all-star break. Some of those games are winnable, but with the way the team is playing right now and the fact that they’re 5-20 in their last 25 games, the idea that the Lakers should actually be favored to win any of them is becoming more and more of a stretch.
Which brings us to tonight’s game vs. the Nuggets. Denver is currently 16-23 and the 9th seed in the conference. I’ll save my rant about the Lakers playing 6 more games than the Nuggets at this point in the season, and focus instead on the idea that if the Lakers want to make any sort of push towards even contending for a playoff spot (note: this does not mean make the playoffs), games like this are important. The Nuggets are better than the Lakers, but they aren’t so much better that a win in Los Angeles should be out of the question.
Getting it is another story, but the Lakers do have the tools to win.
After a stretch where the Lakers looked as though they were turning a corner with improved play, they have lost three games in a row. In the last two of those three, the Lakers haven’t even held a lead. Considering how rare buzzer to buzzer losses are, the fact the Lakers have had two such games in a row isn’t good. At all.
This dip in team play is directly related to the dip in play from D’Angelo Russell and, to a lesser but still meaningful extent, Julius Randle. Russell has struggled as a shooter and his forays into the lane have not earned him many baskets nor free throws. As for Randle, he had an excellent first half against the Spurs, but in the 2nd half did not have near the same impact. Then, against the Blazers and Clippers he was a combined 4-16 from the field and only scored 10 total points. And while the rebounding was still there, the team needs more from Randle than to be a glass cleaner, they need his scoring and the subsequent impact that has on his ability to create shots for others.
After their second 1-game trip to Texas this season (and their 2nd blowout loss, this time to the Spurs) the Lakers are back in Los Angeles to play a “road” game against the Clippers. The game is a matinee with a 12:30pm start time so the Kings can use Staples tonight to play against Winnipeg. According to Arash Markazi, this just the 3rd time a little over a decade that all three of the Lakers, Kings, and Clippers have all played a game in the Arena on the same day. So, the more you know.
I’m going to keep this short because I honestly don’t think there’s much to say about the Lakers right now. They lost their last game with a very poor 2nd half performance, one which saw their offense struggle mightily and their defense play just okay for stretches and struggle more later when the pressure to try to get stops led to gambles and miscommunication which cost them.
I know some would like to make the Blazer game more than that, but I don’t really see it that way.
Anyways. This isn't a "back to the drawing board" game for me. Russell/Randle need to play better. Execution needs to get sharper.
— Darius Soriano (@forumbluegold) January 11, 2017
I think these things will continue to come, then drop off, then improve again. This is what development looks like. I'm here for all of it.
— Darius Soriano (@forumbluegold) January 11, 2017
The Lakers are have won 2 games in a row and 3 of their last 4. This recent stretch — dating back even a few games farther — even if not better than the level of play exhibited at the beginning of the season, is more meaningful since it has been driven mostly by the play of D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle with Brandon Ingram also playing very good basketball in the last week.
After beating the Miami Heat on Friday, the Lakers are back in action tonight to take on the Magic. Orlando, like the other Florida team, are on a Western Conference trip with tonight’s game the first of a 6 game venture away from Disney World. Orlando is currently 12th in the East, certainly not where they’d want to be after bringing on Frank Vogel as coach and several new players — including Serge Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo — in an attempt to make the playoffs.
Getting back to Portland, just because the Lakers have the chance to do some of these things doesn’t mean it will happen easily. The Blazers are a bad defensive team, but have enough offense to turn the tenor of a game into a shootout where they can thrive. Further, that type of game tends to throw off game plans and get players into the type of mindset where they think everything will come easy. Until it doesn’t. Which is how a nice chunk of Lakers’ leads have been blown of late.
That is from yesterday’s game preview for the game against the Blazers. A game the team lost after going cold in the 4th quarter and struggling with general flatness and poor execution to start the 3rd quarter. It was a game the Lakers had a double digit lead in (again), but lost (again). This is frustrating for many. I know. I have a comments section and a twitter account where people like to show that frustration.
Anyways, I block quote the above because it’s sort of what happened in the game. The Lakers had a nice flow in the 1st half, getting to the FT line to stay in the game through the 1st period and then opening up a lead when their attacking of the Blazers’ soft defense finally started to result in made baskets during the 2nd period. All was good. Until it wasn’t.