— NBA Official (@NBAOfficial) November 12, 2015
With only 1.5 seconds left and the game tied, overtime seems like a foregone conclusion. To not only lose, but to lose where the Lakers’ best defender is challenging a turnaround 18 footer from the opposing team’s Center (regardless of how good a shooter) is, well, deflating. I would normally take that scenario 100 times out of 100. Alas, it was not the Lakers night.
Normally, though, give me an ending like that and I’d be sick. After the buzzer, though, this summed up my emotions.
Yikes. Good effort, guys.
— Darius Soriano (@forumbluegold) November 12, 2015
Disappointed, yes. Heartbroken? Far from it. And not just because the Lakers are bad or because it was the 2nd night of a back to back on the road. But because this is what rebuilding looks like. A close game on the road where most of the young players did well and the team just didn’t do enough of the little things right to win. Be it the players or the coaches, there were too many small mistakes.
But that happens. Again, this is what rebuilding looks like. There were enough positives from enough of the players to chalk this up to a very good learning experience for a lot of the guys.
Consider the following:
- D’Angelo Russell had his most involved game of the season, playing a team high 32 minutes while closing out the game. Russell started the game strong, put up good numbers overall (14 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 block), and was, most importantly, aggressive in looking to go to the basket and played with excellent tempo. On one sequence he blocked a shot in the paint, grabbed the loose ball, and pushed it coast to coast for a layup:
- Julus Randle had another good game, scoring 12 points on 60% shooting while pulling down 8 rebounds and dishing out 4 assists. Down the stretch he served as a go-to player, getting a dunk and hitting a tough shot off the dribble after a nice spin move.
- Larry Nance Jr. continued to solidify himself as a rotation player, scoring 13 points without a miss on 6 shot attempts. He also grabbed 3 rebounds and dished out an assist in 20 minutes of action.
Did these guys have perfect nights? Of course not.
Russell’s shooting went cold after his hot start and he only made 3 of his final 10 shots. He also had a few defensive lapses and, late in the closing minutes, called for a needless switch defensively with Metta which led to an open three pointer after Metta over-helped. Randle missed all 3 of his foul shots, including two big ones in with 2:28 remaining and the Lakers down 3. Nance didn’t rebound well on the defensive glass, allowed too easy an inbound on the game winning basket, and did not recognize a couple of help situations quickly enough when on the back line.
But, guess what? These guys also all got strong learning experiences in a game which was close throughout and had many more good moments than bad. As much teaching that can happen in practice and in the film room, these are the types of experiences players learn from. Actual game minutes in situations they have not experienced before.
So, yes, the Lakers lost. And they did so in a dramatic, gut-punch fashion. I doubt the players or the coaches see any silver linings in how it all went down. But I do. I do.
Now for some additional notes…
- Jordan Clarkson hasn’t had many off nights in this young season, but this game was one of them. He only hit 2 of his 7 shots (including 0-2 from distance) and didn’t go to the foul line all night. He did have 5 assists — including a couple of nice dump-offs out of the P&R to Hibbert, but that was the most impact he had all game. He also lost all his crunch time minutes to Lou Williams.
- Speaking of Lou, another tough shooting night for the reigning 6th man of year. 2-8 from the field, 0-3 from behind the arc. He did hit 9 of his 10 FT’s which were crucial shots down the stretch. Still, those foul shots are possessions used and it would be nice to see him make some of the actual field goals he’s getting.
- Lou also had a chance to win the game in regulation, but missed a pull up jumper as the shot clock expired. The play called was not an inspired one, though. After a timeout, Byron Scott had D’Angelo Russell dribble for nearly 10 seconds only to then give the ball to Lou who dribbled for another 10 seconds before going into an isolation.
- If there is a player who is most benefitting from Kobe being out, it might be Roy Hibbert. The big man is getting more offensive opportunities via direct post-ups and out of the P&R. He is responding to the increased workload, scoring 15 points against the Magic.
- I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but Nick Young is playing well this year. He hit 4 of his 7 shots for 10 points, including 2-5 from behind the arc.