Welcome Laker fans! Every Friday I (@P_ACasas) will bring you the Lakers week in review the only way I know how to, with a twist. I teamed up with @LakersLounging‘s own Corban and Nick this week to bring you a special premiere story. Without wasting anymore time let’s get down like panties on prom night. The Lakers Lounge crew breaks down the teams past week and offer insight for the future.
The Lakers finished with a 1-3 record, beating the Pacers, but losing to the Mavericks, Trail Blazers, and Jazz. The defense wasn’t anything at all to brag about, but in two out of the four match ups the Lakers held the opposition under 100 points, which isn’t bad. Their worst loss was a 49 point embarrassment at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks, a loss that seemed to ebb into a miserable week for the Lake Show. A common trend this week for L.A. was to either grab a lead and fail to hold on to it, or to give up a big lead, scrabble back to make it competitive, but fall short at the end. For example: the Lakers went into halftime against the Blazers up one, but fell behind by 14 in the third quarter. They fought back to tie it in the fourth with 6 minutes left, and even briefly took the lead 42 seconds late. However the Lakers proceeded to score just 4 points the rest of the game, and that resulted in yet another loss.
On the bright side, the play of the 19 year old Ivica Zubac has been a revelation for the Lakers. In the last 10 games, Zubac has averaged 7.4 points and 5.9 rebounds, which is pretty decent for a young center just getting consistent minutes at the NBA level. However, after his double-double coming out party against Denver, Zubac has had two more double doubles (12-10-3 blocks vs Blazers, 16-10-1 assist vs Jazz). His strong play has further pushed Timofey Mozgov off the floor, who hasn’t played over 20 minutes since last week against Denver. Jordan Clarkson has also had a strong week off the bench showing poise and controlled aggression on the offensive end, and it will be interesting to see how Zubac, Mozgov, Clarkson, and others roles have changed once the trade deadline has passed.
For this upcoming week the Lakers should assess how they are playing defense and what they can do to be more effective, particularly the way they defend the pick and roll. Containing penetration has been an issue for much of the season, but this week I would focus on the Lakers defending the three point line. I keep thinking back to the Dallas loss where 10 different Mavericks hit a three and 5 of them hit two or more. Against the Blazers, they let Damian Lillard go off with 6-9 shooting from deep. However against the Jazz the Lakers definitely improved, as they corralled Utah into 23% shooting from deep (6-26). Yet even with that strong showing I think we need to see another couple of performances from them to believe that this is the new norm and not an aberration.
Another place to improve would be holding leads and staying in games longer. I don’t think there is an exact science in doing that, but I do think that the Lakers can take smarter shots, get back better in transition, and keep the effort level high. At various points the Lakers have succeeded and failed at this, and at some point they need to buckle down and rewrite the narrative to their season, at least on the energy and effort front, which is half the battle. Consistency is the key for any NBA team, but especially for a young one, and to think of this week as a fresh start could work wonders for the Lakers as they head into the All-Star break. With the Nuggets, Wizards, and Celtics looming on the horizon, the Lakers should set an attainable goal of taking one of those games and being competitive down the stretch for the other two. That would be a small victory for this week, and something to analyze further next Friday.
Alright time evaluate the Lakers on what they can improve on. Two games this week so not much, but it they weren’t as bad. I’m pegging them for turnovers, and poor decision making for this weeks games.
They would look good and have promise throughout both games, but fell apart this week when the Lakers would make poor decisions on shots, or turnovers. We see the stats, the highlights, or even catch the game. Sit on it and think real hard. Almost every game we’ve had this year had a scenario of us rushing shots, turning the ball over at a crucial point to cut the game closer just overall bad decisions. It’s been frustrating.
This week with both the Portland Trail Blazers, and the Utah Jazz, we kept the games close. There are many moments we had chances to take the lead, heck you can pull up in the highlights where we got within a shooters distance, but there would be a forced shot, or a high degree of difficulty shot and that good timely turnover at the worst possible moment. The opposing team would then capitalize on that and thus put us back in the hole we worked so hard to crawl out of. It’s really demoralizing on your psyche. You could give credit to the opposing teams defense yes, but also keep in mind that its our own doing with poor play during important stretches in the game. The teams that are winning and putting themselves in the position to reach the playoffs are patient and aren’t constantly turning the ball over at important moments in the game like the Lakers.
Here’s a perfect example of great decision making we saw this week with Utah.
At one point during the 4th quarter last night the Jazz had about 3 seconds left on the shot clock, and it all happened in slow motion. Cant remember who was at the top of the key for Utah, but he hit Hayward in the corner, and with .9 seconds left, Hayward got off the shot and BANG! which you can arguably say was the dagger to put the game away after we got back within 6, at least it was for me. Patience and smart decision making ladies and gents. They didn’t just chunk up a tough shot and yell “KOBE” and hope for the best , but Patience.
So if we can go into these next week with less crucial turnovers when its a close game, and more smarter shots when it is a close game i don’t see why we shouldn’t pull out a victory because the talent is clearly there even if its raw talent its still there.
Let’s be completely honest, the Lakers have had a tough last seven days. Almost as tough as a man whose with a chick who is crazy and thinks he’s cheating, that’s the kind of insane week the Lakers have had. The Lakers started off last weekend right with a 108-95 win against a solid Indiana team, but since have lost three straight. One of those losses was of course the 49 point whooping they got to the Dallas Mavs, the worst in team history. So, if we want to put this in perspective, the Lakers week has been worse than getting broken up with said girlfriend who thinks you’re cheating, but in reality you’re not. Those guys are young, I’m sure if they got broken up with they’d be just ok. These Lakers have got to shake off this last week like they would that girl who says she’s not being crazy and just being cautious.
If I’m being 100 % honest, I see nothing to be happy about after this week. I’m not the guy to hand out participation trophies or look for morale victories. Those don’t exist in my book, those make you weak and complacent. The defense was terrible. Los Angeles showed the NBA again that they are nothing without D’Angelo Russell. All I saw these last four games is a team who looks afraid to be great. You can’t be great unless you break out of your comfort zone and take risks. Like J. Cole said, “if you scared to take a chance, how the hell we gone be rich?”
One of these guys needs to demand the ball this week and step up. Whether it be Randle, Ingram, Clarkson, or Nance, the world needs to see them come alive in crunch time. Look, let me be plain and simple. Nothing makes a man want to go out and cheat more than being accused of it, right? That same logic can be used in sports. Nothing motivates you more than when someone doubts you, right? So, what’s it gonna be Lakers? You guys gonna prove me right? I challenge y’all to be great.