The Lakers’ second collapse against the Oklahoma City Thunder brought with it a few less-than-desirable developments. The team endured their first loss of the season, as well as a bevy of injuries and an embarrassing defeat.
The Los Angeles Lakers have been “picked apart” in the second collapse against Oklahoma City Thunder. The Lakers were down by as many as 30 points, but they managed to close it out. Read more in detail here: los angeles lakers.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — The Lakers would be sitting well with a 7-2 record and the Oklahoma City Thunder would be winless at 0-8 if they had able to maintain two large leads against them — up 26 on the road last week and up 19 at Staples Center on Thursday night.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. The Thunder outscored the Lakers 35-24 in the fourth quarter to win 107-104 on Thursday, leaving the new-look Lakers scratching their heads once again over what went wrong.
“We were all over the place defensively,” said Anthony Davis, whose 29 points, 18 rebounds, and five assists weren’t enough to push L.A. to victory. “They seemed to be waiting for our coverages and then taking us apart… This squad comes in every time they make shots against us for some reason, and they made 15 3s again tonight.”
The Thunder shot 15-for-41 from three-point range, up from 15-for-37 in their victory last Wednesday. Under coach Frank Vogel, the Lakers’ defense has consistently placed in the top three in each of the last two seasons. L.A. is allowing 107.2 points per 100 possessions after the Thunder defeat, placing them in the lowest half of the league (17th).
When questioned about the defensive blunders, Davis said that the Lakers were following the instructions, but that the Thunder were ready to break them down.
“I mean, they sort of understood what we were doing the whole second half, and their coach or Shai [Gilgeous-Alexander] or whomever it was made the adjustment to put their guys in the correct location,” Davis said. “They also made shots.”
The game came down to the shot that Gilgeous-Alexander made — a 34-footer from the logo with 16 seconds left on the shot clock and 1:18 remaining in the game clock to put the Thunder ahead by six — and the shot that Russell Westbrook missed in the final minutes.
Instead of laboring to locate the hot hand, Westbrook pushed the ball up the court and missed a 3 from the wing with 3.5 seconds left after Carmelo Anthony knocked two late 3s to make it a one-possession game.
Westbrook’s choice to shoot it was deemed “not good enough” by Vogel. “We’d want to take a better picture than that. The spacing was insufficient. We attempted to bring Melo to the top of the floor, but the gap was insufficient.”
While the Lakers’ fresh start has been hampered by injuries — LeBron James has already missed his third game of the season, this time due to an abdominal strain that will keep him out for at least another week, and Davis suffered a sprained right thumb in the first half but played through it — there’s something else working against them.
Teams, regardless of their record, seem to bring a level of rigor to L.A. that the Lakers appear ill-equipped to face at the time.
“It’s something we talk about.” It’s something we speak about all the time. “Just recognizing and embracing the fact that players will play differently, teams will play differently when they play against us,” Anthony said after scoring 21 points and seeing L.A. lose for the first time in four games in which he has scored 20 points or more. “So that’s not the elephant in the room,” says the narrator. That’s not something we keep quiet about. We’re aware of it; we speak about it; we debate it.
“I mean, [Darius] Bazley, you look at tonight as an example, right? I’m not going to reveal his numbers, but we go through it and scout it. However, he comes up against us and makes the majority of his 3s against us. As a result, it’ll happen. It was just a matter of time until we took ownership of it. We simply have to accept it and make sure that when the time comes, people’s water is turned off.”
Bazley was 8-for-37 from three-point range into Thursday’s game, and he went 2-for-3 against the Lakers.
The issues are mounting for a Lakers team that is clear in its intention to win a championship this season. From targets on their backs to finger pointing, a broken thumb for Talen Horton-Tucker and now a sprained thumb for Davis, and a handful of other injuries to expected rotation players, the issues are mounting for a Lakers team that is clear in its intention to win a championship this season.
At best, it’s been a shaky start. But there’s still a lot more basketball to be played until the end.
When questioned about his injury troubles, Westbrook remarked, “It’s intriguing.” “But you know… I’m the kind of girl who plays the cards she’s dealt. That’s what we work with, whatever it is that’s accessible. We haven’t had our whole crew together in a long time — not even close.
“So we just have to make the most of whatever we’ve got and compete to the best of our ability,” she says.
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