Anthony Davis Emphasizes That Lakers Must Stop Starting Games So Slow
Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers are seeing a few issues form in their first handful of games for the 2023-24 season. One of the biggest has been poor performance in the first quarter. Despite LeBron James and Anthony Davis starting all six games thus far, the Lakers have been throughly outplayed in five of six first quarters, winning only one and losing the five by double digits.

L.A. is averaging 24 points per first quarter through six games, while allowing an average of 34.2 points. Against the Orlando Magic on Saturday, they dropped the first quarter 39-25 and never fully recovered, losing 120-101. That was the first thing on Davis’ mind following the loss that put L.A. back to .500 at 3-3.

Davis feels the Lakers have to stop leaning on certain excuses for why they may be struggling in the first quarter and simply start playing better in the opening period, via Spectrum SportsNet:

“Yeah. We don’t have a choice. We can’t use the excuse of guys are out, East Coast, time change, all that. The guys who are playing have been in the league long enough to be ready to go out and get a win. So if we don’t want to stay on this side of the win and loss column then we got to come out with a better first quarter on Monday.”

Davis brought up a familiar issue — offensive rebounds and turnovers — when discussing why the Lakers might be getting off to slow starts and what needs to change:

“Seems like it’s just our energy. Other teams are coming out and playing a little bit more aggressive. It’s not even skill or talent, it’s the offensive rebounds, the turnovers are leading to transition points, 50-50 balls. It’s those type of plays that get us down. Those are the things that we have to come out with a mindset to start the first quarter that we’re gonna control those things. Anytime we’re able to hold the team to one shot, it’s hard to beat us. But we haven’t been able to do that.”

The Lakers star would like this to obviously not become a longer lasting trend, and knows that that starts with coming out with better energy against the Miami Heat on Monday night:

“Hopefully not. If so then who knows, but hopefully not. It starts on Monday. Fix the problem Monday, one game at a time. We got a lot of veterans on this team where we can control that. It’s not like we’re young guys who don’t know what’s going on. We have to be better, and it’s the first five. It’s on the first five.”

Despite the injuries currently plaguing the roster, the Lakers have plenty of veteran experience and talent to lean on to not start so slowly. The core four of the starting lineup — Davis, James, Austin Reaves and D’Angelo Russell — have played in every game.

The Lakers have a chance to show that bad first quarters won’t become a trend, and it starts on Monday against the Heat.

James: Lakers need to figure out offensive rebounds

Perhaps the biggest reason for the loss against the Magic, at least according to superstar LeBron James, was the offensive rebounds given up by the Lakers. L.A. lost the offensive rebound battle 19-10. It brought the Lakers to 3-3 and signaled a larger trend that has hurt the team this season. On the year, the Lakers are averaging 11.3 offensive rebounds allowed per game, the ninth worst figure in the NBA.

James knows that this issue has plagued the Lakers this season and understands it needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

“We’ve got to try and figure it out because it’s definitely been our trend. Offensive rebounds and points off turnovers. We do a good job of getting a stop in the first possession, but we allow offensive rebounds and then we allow them to score off of the offensive rebounds, so we’ve got to do a better job of that. We’ve got to get that under wraps, something that we should challenge ourselves for, for sure.”

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