3 Take Aways From Lakers Opening Loss To Trail Blazers
Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers 2018-19 season didn’t get off the start that they were hoping for, falling to the Portland Trail Blazers, 128-119. Of course, LeBron James was the big story heading into the night and he didn’t disappoint with 26 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists, but a win just wasn’t in the cards.

Let’s dig into some takeaways from the first game of what should be a thrilling new season of Lakers basketball.

Zigging Instead Of Zagging: Late in the fourth quarter, with the Lakers trailing and the chances of a comeback dwindling, James sailed a pass straight out of bounds, thinking that Kyle Kuzma was going to pop out behind the three-point line rather than cut to the basket.

It was just one play but it was indicative of how difficult it is to get five players on the same page. This Lakers team is very much in its infancy.

They are figuring out roles and tendencies as they work to become a cohesive unit, and that doesn’t happen overnight. Basketball is a simple sport on the surface but the little things add up to a lot.

The Blazers, on the other hand, largely brought back their entire team from last season. They defended well and then made adjustments in the second half seamlessly, inserting the fairly mobile Zach Collins at center and enjoying the difference that his shot blocking made in the paint against a Lakers team that couldn’t get their threes to fall (more on that later).

They have their roles figured out, knowing exactly where everyone on the floor will be. If a Laker got beat on the perimeter and the help defense rotated over Portland knew where to ping the next pass to in order to get the Lakers scrambling and eventually hit the jackpot on a wide-open three.

These things take time. Despite being a talented team, chemistry matters in basketball, and it’s going to be a process as the Lakers figure out the right combinations on the floor.

Three-Point Shooting: For much of the game the Lakers couldn’t get their outside shots to drop. At all.

One of the major criticisms of the roster was that, despite finishing 29th in the league in three-point percentage (34.5%) in 2017-18, they didn’t add anyone in the offseason that would help rectify that problem.

Historically, teams built around James have prioritized shooters who can spread the floor but Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Ron Pelinka went a different direction, instead finding playmakers like Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson with the goal of taking some of the burden of creating offense off of James’ broad shoulders.

The Lakers did nothing to quiet the concerns about their shooting when they started the game 0-for-15 from beyond the arc. Shot after shot rimmed out, while on the other side of the floor, Nik Stauskas was going crazy, hitting his first six shots and finishing 5-of-8 from deep.

Defensively, the Lakers struggled to stick with him, which played a large part in their ultimate defeat. After all, giving up nearly a combined 50 points to Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum is almost a given, but allowing a role player like Stauskas to also blow up for 24 points of his own makes winning extremely unlikely.

Stauskas’ barrage had the added insult of throwing the Lakers’ own lack of shooting into sharp contrast as they misfired on one shot after another.

That said, the sample size is extremely small. Despite starting 0-of-15 from three, the Lakers aren’t really that bad from outside. In fact, they hit seven out of their next 15, which helped keep a faint glimmer of hope alive down the stretch.

They did a fine job generating open looks but the Lakers ability to knock them down will be something to watch as the season goes on.

Small Ball: Beyond shooting, the Lakers’ other major gamble this offseason came at the center position. They opted to focus on bringing in wing players rather than bigs with the idea that they can get away with playing small by being fast and running the break.

JaVale McGee (13 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks) has done a commendable job in the paint, but only Ivica Zubac and Moritz Wagner (who is still recovering from injury) qualify as true reserve centers.

The Lakers got away with going small last season largely due to the bruising versatility of Julius Randle. They have asked Kyle Kuzma to take on a similar role this season, to mixed results so far.

Kuzma lacks the raw strength of Randle, who could hold his own battling for rebounds with true bigs. This means that the team is betting that Kuzma’s floor spacing and shooting can more than make up for what they give up on the boards.

Against the Blazers, going small didn’t pay off as Kuzma hit just 5-of-15 shots and 1-for-7 from three while the Blazers out-rebounded the Lakers, 54-46, including 14 big offensive boards. If the Lakers are going to play small they need to be able to at least keep things close in the rebounding department while capitalizing on their speed advantage.

That said, it’s way too early to consider the Kuzma-at-center experiment a failure. During the first half, when the Blazers deployed the plodding Jusuf Nurkic against Kuzma, the Lakers were indeed able to run off several high-reel fast breaks while almost staying even in the rebounding department.

While Kuzma’s outside shot wasn’t falling he did make a few quick, nimble cuts and fakes in the paint that the Blazers struggled to deal with.

Whether or not the Lakers can make small ball work is yet to be seen but it’s something the team isn’t going to give up on just yet.

Want to get your content COMPLETELY AD FREE? Follow us on Apple News!

I just want to mention I am just newbie to blogs and honestly loved you’re web page. Most likely I’m want to bookmark your site . You absolutely have terrific well written articles. Bless you for sharing your web page.

  • This is the ideal blog site for any individual that wishes to learn about this topic. You understand so much its almost hard to say with you (not that I actually would want?HaHa). You absolutely placed a brand-new spin on a topic thats been covered for several years. Great stuff, just great!

  • I?d need to consult you right here. Which is not something I normally do! I delight in reviewing a post that will make people assume. Likewise, thanks for permitting me to comment!

  • Hello there! I simply would like to provide a massive thumbs up for the fantastic information you have below on this message. I will certainly be returning to your blog for more quickly.

  • Nice article. I find out something much more tough on different blog sites daily. It will constantly be promoting to check out content from various other writers and practice a something from their shop. I?d like to make use of some with the web content on my blog site whether you don?t mind. Natually I?ll give you a web link on your web blog. Thanks for sharing.

  • Youre so trendy! I do not expect Ive review anything like this before. So good to find somebody with some original thoughts on this subject. realy thank you for starting this up. this internet site is something that is required on the web, someone with a little creativity. beneficial task for bringing something brand-new to the web!

  • An excellent share, I simply provided this onto a colleague that was doing a little analysis on this. And he in fact acquired me breakfast due to the fact that I located it for him. smile. So let me rephrase that: Thnx for the reward! But yeah Thnkx for spending the time to discuss this, I feel highly concerning it and enjoy finding out more on this subject. When possible, as you become experience, would certainly you mind updating your blog site with even more information? It is very valuable for me. Huge thumb up for this article!

  • It?s difficult to find experienced individuals on this topic, however you sound like you understand what you?re speaking about! Many thanks

  • This website is actually a walk-through for all of the details you desired concerning this as well as didn?t recognize that to ask. Peek here, and you?ll definitely discover it.

  • This design is incredible! You certainly know how to keep a reader amused. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Wonderful job. I really loved what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool!

  • A remarkable share, I just given this onto a colleague who was doing a little analysis on this. As well as he actually bought me morning meal due to the fact that I found it for him. smile. So let me rephrase that: Thnx for the reward! Yet yeah Thnkx for spending the time to discuss this, I really feel strongly concerning it and like reading more on this topic. If possible, as you become expertise, would you mind updating your blog site with more details? It is very useful for me. Big thumb up for this post!

  • I?m impressed, I should claim. Truly seldom do I experience a blog site that?s both enlightening and entertaining, and also let me tell you, you have struck the nail on the head. Your idea is outstanding; the issue is something that inadequate individuals are speaking intelligently around. I am very satisfied that I stumbled across this in my look for something connecting to this.

  • I’m not sure exactly why but this site is loading incredibly slow for me. Is anyone else having this issue or is it a problem on my end? I’ll check back later and see if the problem still exists.

  • An excellent share, I just given this onto a colleague that was doing a little analysis on this. As well as he actually got me breakfast since I discovered it for him. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for the reward! Yet yeah Thnkx for spending the time to discuss this, I feel highly concerning it and love finding out more on this topic. Preferably, as you end up being expertise, would certainly you mind updating your blog with even more details? It is very useful for me. Big thumb up for this blog post!

  • After research a few of the blog posts on your site currently, and also I truly like your way of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark site listing and will certainly be examining back quickly. Pls look into my internet site too and also let me understand what you believe.

  • I was extremely happy to discover this web-site. I intended to many thanks for your time for this wonderful read!! I definitely enjoying every little of it and I have you bookmarked to have a look at new stuff you blog post.

  • Spot on with this article, I truly think this web site requires far more consideration. I?ll probably be once again to read a lot more, thanks for that info.

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.