Everything wrong with the Lakers unravelled in the final 10 minutes of a one-point defeat to the Pacers on Monday. The franchise’s major faults all came together against a team many thought would be playing for the No. 1 selection.
LeBron James remarked after the Lakers lost 116-115, “Everything went wrong.”
Here are the three greatest things that failed them, all of which should worry the Lakers despite a recent run of better play.
LeBron James’ clutch play
LeBron James has proved his dominance with the ball throughout his career.
James couldn’t hit the angular fallaways that have let him score more than anyone not named Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. His two-of-six shooting helped ignite the Pacers’ fastbreaks and comeback.
NBA.com reports that James is only 6 for 16 in “clutch” situations, when teams are within 5 points in the final 5 minutes.
Lakers coach Darvin Ham: “Those are looks he routinely makes; the ball simply didn’t go in tonight.” “I’m fine with him shooting”
James’ shooting efficiency has dipped this season, which could signal a decline. If it happens quickly, the Lakers’ difficulties may be insurmountable.
In the fourth quarter, when Indiana erased a 17-point Lakers advantage in 10 minutes, difficulties resurfaced.
The Lakers couldn’t stop the Pacers from getting second chances, especially in the last two minutes. Anthony Davis said effort is crucial to working the glass, but the Lakers’ final lineup didn’t have much size. Lonnie Walker IV and Troy Brown Jr. were unproductive enough that the Lakers stayed small, despite Dennis Schroder’s team-worst minus-16 while Tyrese Haliburton tormented them.
Patrick Beverley would’ve helped on rebounds, but the Lakers’ lack of size and depth on the wings was a bigger concern.
Getting two (or more) role players for Westbrook helps balancing the roster.
The Lakers were without options on both sides of the court.
Fourth-quarter Anthony Davis ineffective
Davis only had two shots in the fourth quarter Monday, a problem predicted before James’ return. If the Lakers want to win games with Davis’s offence, they must get him the ball and to the line.
As the Lakers pushed, Davis went to the line often. His only two fourth-quarter free throws came following a loose-ball foul.
“You gain a lead like that, the free-throw line allows you to preserve your lead,” Ham said of the Lakers’ late offensive. “Stay organised and move the ball. I’m responsible. I’m responsible. I’m responsible.”
The Lakers have claimed they want to increase Davis’ fourth-quarter production, but they must show it.
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