Archives For Game Preview

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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I have been a bit more bullish on the Lakers recently than, from what I can tell, your average fan. The Lakers won two games in December and wrapped the new year holiday with losses to the Mavericks (who are bad) and the Raptors (who are good). The Mavs loss was particularly dispiriting since the game featured a big lead, a 2nd half collapse, and effort levels that could be at best called sporadic and at worst at times reprehensible.

I remained optimistic about the team, though, because though stretches of poor play persisted their were lineups which were still performing well and, as noted, they were still taking leads in nearly every game they played. So, I chose to focus on the good aspects they were doing with the hope they would get more consistent at them rather than continue to find ways to undo those positives.

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Remember when the Lakers played the Grizzlies in Memphis and lost even though they were missing Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, Chandler Parsons, and others? I don’t blame you if you want to forget, but it actually did happen. Yes, the game was close and the Lakers were at the end of a brutal 4 game in 5 night stretch that saw them travel thousands of miles, but how it went is how it went.

Well, tonight the Grizz are in Los Angeles and have been there for a couple of days after a New Year’s Eve game in Sacramento. And this time they have Conley back, Z-Bo back, and Parsons back. Marc Gasol does have a sprained ankle, but after a couple of days off he could still play.

In other words, after the Lakers lost to a very depleted Memphis team, now they have to play the Grizz at (basically) full strength. If you think this is a problem, you would be correct.

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