Lakers: Russell Westbrook, Avery Bradley, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, DeAndre Jordan
Pistons: Sadiq Bey, Cory Joseph, Cade Cunningham, Jerami Grant, Isaiah Stewart
Lakers: LeBron James (questionable), Trevor Ariza (out), Kendrick Nunn (out)
Pistons: Kelly Olynyk (out)
I’m going to keep this short and sweet…I’m tired of this Lakers team. They’re too often not fun to watch, make their own lives infinitely harder through the lineups they commit to and how hard (or, more to the point, not hard) they choose to play, and are both disorganized offensively and lacking in awareness defensively in ways that have me shaking my head multiple times each game. They are, in other words, a bad basketball team.
With that, I’ve little to say. For what feels like the 7th time in this early-ish part of the season, the Lakers again suffered their “worst loss of the year” in their last game, a triple overtime defeat that saw LeBron James fire up 13 three pointers (making only two), Anthony Davis fire up 5 three pointers (making none), and then going to isolation play after isolation play for Bron down the stretch and watching him run down the clock and do absolutely nothing with all that time used besides miss a long jumper again.
No one is exempt from criticism here. Not the players, who cannot commit to playing hard or to make good decisions for longer than 5 or 6 minute stretches at a time; not the head coach, who continues to start both Avery Bradley AND DeAndre Jordan even though the team boasts an Offensive Rating of 87.0 (yuck) in the 126 minutes they’ve shared the floor this season; not the vice president of basketball operations who built this specific roster which is not suited to the approach its head coach would prefer to play.
Anyways, maybe I’m supposed to write about the game against the Pistons here, but honestly, I’m not going to. I’m guessing the fact that the last time these teams played, LeBron got ejected after hitting Isaiah Stewart in the face, triggering Stewart’s attempt to fight the entire Lakers team will be a big story tonight. I’m also guessing that whether the Lakers can “get back on track” or “rebound” from their last game is also a thing folks will talk about.
Those things matter, I guess. I just don’t care about them. And I don’t care because the bigger thing, from my vantage point, is that the Lakers are not actually taking the steps to be a better team night to night. LeBron has talked about “building their habits” and the head coach has talked about there being “more urgency”, but neither of those two are actually exhibiting the traits you’d want to reinforce those talking points. Unless the “habits” LeBron is talking about are playing hard one game and then settling for long jumpers while coasting defensively the next night or the “urgency” Vogel is talking about relates to starting nearly every game in a hole because he’s playing lineups that has proven they’re not going to be successful in most every shift they play.
I mean, maybe they do mean those things. I’d bet they don’t, though.
So, be better, Lakers. Commit to it. All of you. From the coaches to the players to the front office executives. This team comes into the game 10-11. And even though there’s important context to how the team has gotten here, the languishing in this position now is not about that context. It’s about committing to being the best version of yourself every night. It has to change if this team expects to be what it says it wants to be this season. Otherwise, what are they actually doing here.
Where you can watch: 6:30pm start time on Spectrum SportsNet.