Much like seeing the forest through the trees, it can be hard to find positives about the Lakers while in the midst of an 8 game losing streak. Coming off double digit losses to the Kings and Nets only piles on further, leaving many wondering where the early season fun went; where the confidence and joy the team played with disappeared to.
The obvious answer is injuries and losing. It’s hard to be upbeat, happy, and feeling good about yourself when you’ve lost 8 games in a row. It’s even harder when the things you’re doing on the floor aren’t actually working, when your coach says they played mentally soft (as he told the team directly after the Nets loss), and when the other team seems to have all the answers during games while every single one of your runs ends up falling short.
This has been the Lakers’ lives of late and it is dispiriting. To the players, to the coaches, to those of us watching.
This wasn’t exactly the most watchable basketball game. Whether it was or not, it didn’t really matter to the Lakers as they lost for the eighth straight time, 107-97.
The ball movement was very lacking in the first half. Not only that but the second quarter proved disastrous to the Lakers. They went 4 for 19 (.211) from the field, including an 8:49 stretch where they missed 14 straight shots. L.A. also only had three assists in that first half. Neither team shot well in the first half and there were so many stoppages of play due to the number of trips to the charity stripe.
The Lakers showed a bit more life in the second half, going on a 10-0 run to take the lead. The third quarter ended emphatically with a Larry Nance, Jr. slam. Someone tell Robin Lopez that he no longer has a twin brother.
Then the Lakers’ well went dry again. They didn’t make a field goal in the last 6:18 of the game. The Nets took advantage of that and their shot-making, though not very good, was enough to beat the Lakers. Not only was the game hard to watch for the most part but for the Lakers trying to get out of this slump, it was extremely disappointing.
The Lakers only had 11 assists and that’s partly because of the Lakers’ woeful shooting (.385). The Nets didn’t shoot well, either (.384). It felt like I heard a lot of glass shattering in this contest. There were a lot of trips to the free throw line but the Lakers only shot under 62 percent on that department (21 out of 34). The Nets went 30 for 40 (75 percent). Plus the Nets outhustled the Lakers in rebounds, 61-49. Trevor Booker made up for the corpse of Brook Lopez by going for 18 boards. Three Nets had 20 or more points (Lopez, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Sean Kilpatrick).
L.A. had balanced scoring as six players had double figures (Lou Williams had 16 to lead the way). D’Angelo Russell never got going (2 for 10 from the field) because he got in foul trouble early. Julius Randle continued to struggle on his shot (2 for 8). Timofey Mozgov played well as he went for 12 and 13. And Nance, to go along with that electrifying dunk, had a good game that doesn’t show up on the numbers. But the Lakers just didn’t have enough on the offensive end. You’re not going to beat any team if you go on extended droughts like that and if you only score three points in the latter half of the final quarter.
As mentioned, it’s the Lakers’ eighth straight loss and it’s not good for the morale of the team at the moment. They lost two winnable games on the road against the Kings and the Nets. They do have another chance to redeem themselves as they go against the Sixers on Friday. Hopefully, Coach Luke Walton can get the team back to what they were doing before the long slump. They oughta move the ball more, be energized on defense, and get back that fighting spirit that was their signature for the first 20 games.
And it seemed like yesterday when all their troubles seemed so far away…
So, as some of you already know, a new project is coming to FB&G in partnership with Pete Zayas from @LakerFilmRoom. We will be doing a podcast together which will run weekly (and, maybe, more often than that depending on what’s going on with the team). I am super excited about this and hope you all will find it worth your time.
The pod itself will be less a reactionary response to the daily going-ons of the team and more of a targeted look at topics and ideas which intrigue us both. We hope these sessions give you a sense of what intrigues us about the Lakers at any given time while also giving you some insight into how we look at and absorb information from the games.
With that, click through below for our first episode. As always, thanks for your support.
With the Lakers currently mired in a 7 game losing streak, it is hard to be optimistic. That early season good start, buoyed by a strong offense and a better than expected defense seems like ancient history. The Lakers now look like one of the worst defensive teams in the league and have lost some of that offensive magic which made them so much fun to watch. The question, I guess, is whether what we are seeing now is the new norm or if there is a way to recapture what was happening in the season’s first few weeks.
I don’t think anyone can give a definitive answer to that question, but I do know we should have a better answer over the next handful of games. The Lakers played 3 solid quarters against the Kings, but were so thoroughly thrashed in the 3rd period none of that really mattered. Over the next couple of weeks, the team will remain on the road, playing some winnable games, but also several which pundits should have them losing. During the first part of the year, the Lakers surprised by pulling out several of those “they have no business winning this game” games while also picking up W’s against similarly talented teams.
The Lakers are in the midst of a 6 game losing streak. Sunday’s game against the Knicks saw the return of D’Angelo Russell and Nick Young, but both were limited with their minutes and Russell struggled with his shot mightily while looking rusty in general. The team’s defense continued to be terrible, switching excessively and then not containing dribble penetration in the half court or transition.
Despite all that, the Lakers lost by 6 points and had a real chance to take the game in the final 5 minutes. Again, they had a chance to win the game. In other words, there are lots of things to work on with these Lakers and I can understand there being a certain amount of targeted concern. I also think the team is going to get back on the right track now that the injuries are clearing up. Now if only Tarik Black can come back soon.
Saturday it was reported that D’Angelo Russell was close to a return, with today’s game against the Knicks being a real possibility. Well, Luke Walton offered some good news after this morning’s shootaround:
Luke Walton says D'Angelo Russell felt good at shootaround:
"If all goes accordingly from now until game time, he'll be out there tonight."
Assuming nothing goes awry, Russell returning has the chance to offer a real boost to the Lakers’ offense and normalize the team’s rotations. While the former is desperately needed, the latter point cannot be ignored either. After Jose Calderon hurt his hamstring, Luke Walton has turned to Ingram and Clarkson as the “PG” and neither offered a real solution to the team’s woes. Clarkson has not shown to be the passer/playmaker needed at that spot and Ingram, though a fine initiator, is not assertive or threatening enough out of the P&R to really get the defense on its heels.
The walking wounded Lakers may have reinforcements coming. Both D’Angelo Russell (at least 2 weeks) and Nick Young (2-4 weeks) are in the window of time in which they may be ready to return and it looks like it will happen for both sooner than later:
Luke Walton says D'Angelo Russell practiced today and there is a chance he plays tomorrow.
Luke Walton also noted that Nick Young practiced fully on Saturday, with the implication he too should return shortly. So it looks as though Sunday’s game against the Knicks is a realistic target for Russell, with Monday looking almost close to certain. Young could potentially join him on Monday.