This was a tale of two-halves game. The Lakers controlled the first half, defending well, pushing the pace for easy baskets, and taking care of the ball. The went into the break with a double digit lead and it looked like their formula for winning was going right as planned. In the 2nd half, though, they let their foot off the gas. They stopped defending consistently, stopped moving the ball, and played with little purpose offensively.
As if losing the game wasn’t bad enough, to make matters worse, they also lost Larry Nance Jr. to injury. Late in the 4th quarter with the game just getting out of reach, Nance elevated for one of his high-flying finishes only for a Cav to step in and take a charge. Nance lost his balance in mid-air and crashed down to the floor, bracing his fall with his right hand.
After the game, he took X-rays and the news is not promising:
X-rays taken after tonight’s game show a probable fracture to Larry Nance, Jr’s right hand. Nance will return to Los Angeles and will be examined tomorrow by a hand specialist. An update on his condition and an estimate for his recovery will be issued at that time.
If Nance’s hand is indeed broken, early estimates say he could be out 6-8 weeks. That would get him back for training camp, which is good news. However, since this is Nance’s shooting hand, he’d be unable to fully workout or continue to put in work on his jumper. Considering Nance has been working on expanding his range out to beyond the arc and sharpening his mid-range jumper into a real weapon, this is a big blow in the short term.
Nance has been fantastic in summer league and, on a personal level, I feel bad for him. He’s played great defense and has flashed some skill he wasn’t able to fully show last season. I hope he can heal up soon.
Getting back to the game for a moment, while the loss is disappointing, I don’t think there’s too much to be down about. The team had a really good 1st half and simply let the game get away from them in the 2nd. This can be used as a learning experience and gives the players a chance to look at some film and see where they could have done better.
After the game Russell said they “ran out of gas”, but in all honesty, they also stopped moving the ball (Russell included) and just didn’t keep the same focus as they showed early. These are still young guys and this, on some levels, shouldn’t surprise. Still, though, I think they can take this as a lesson learned and just try to be better the next game.
The Lakers continue their summer league on Friday night against the Jazz in the consolation bracket.