In a tightly contested game, the Los Angeles Lakers eventually faltered down the stretch to the L.A. Clippers on Friday night.
Head coach Frank Vogel went with a new starting lineup, going with Talen Horton-Tucker and Dwight Howard to join the Lakers’ Big 3 and while that lineup was great defensively, it struggled to score. Vogel would eventually go back to his smaller lineups with LeBron James and Anthony Davis playing center, which opened up the floor and allowed the Lakers to keep pace with the Clippers throughout the night.
However, it was a frustrating uphill climb for the Lakers as they failed to take a lead at any point of the game despite getting multiple opportunities to do so. The fourth quarter was a heartbreaker for the Purple and Gold as they constantly pulled within one possession but failed to convert on good looks to take control of the game. Davis acknowledged that the Lakers had their chances and ultimately came up short.
“I mean we stayed in it until the fourth quarter. We had plenty of chances to take the lead and they made some big shots,” Davis said. “We come down, I think we were down one, I think. Malik [Monk] just made a three coming down on a fast break left wing and then missing one that goes over the backboard and goes out of bounds. Russ with the offensive foul, that was a dunk for me right there. It’s just little things that just didn’t go our way. They came down and made some tough shots – Luke Kennard, mainly. We had our chances. We just tried to keep fighting and get over the hump and we weren’t able to get over the hump tonight.”
The Clippers dared the Lakers to shoot from beyond the arc all night long and the latter failed to convert, which led to their inability to turn the tide in their favor. Meanwhile on the other end of the floor, the Clippers made a number of clutch shots and Davis gave credit to them.
“We actually just watched, me, Bron, Melo, Rondo and Russ, the Marcus Morris three, and you tip your hat to him. They knew we were rotating and Ty Lue, after the timeout, instead of having Luke Kennard cut through, he went strong side and kind of put us in a jam. Great play call and they made a three in the strong corner. And then they threw it to the post to Ibaka, we’re doing our job to split the difference but he passed out and they made another tough three.
“So two big shots by him and also the midrange in the middle of the floor. [Kennard] made some big shots. You tip your hat to him, we were in the right spots defensively and they made some tough shots.”
It was tough to see the Lakers squander so many opportunities down the stretch and while the untimely misses were a factor, the defense is what ultimately let them down.
In the final minutes of the fourth, Vogel opted to trap Paul George up top to prevent him from scoring but the Clippers star had no issue moving the ball and from there, the Lakers were caught scrambling to keep up. The Clippers ended up draining three after three and sealed the Lakers’ fate in an instant.
These kinds of games could come back to bite the Lakers as they try to stay afloat as they figure things out. Fortunately, they get a mini-break before taking on the Boston Celtics on Tuesday.
Davis takes responsibility for Lakers free throw struggles
Aside from the perimeter, the Lakers were also terrible from the free-throw line as they hit a paltry 13-of-21 of their attempts. Davis was responsible for half of the team’s misses and he took responsibility for the team’s struggles.
“Make them. It starts with me, I missed four, they were all in and out, good looks…As far as us, we got to be better. Got to go out there and take our time and let it go with confidence. Work on them in practice, shoot them in practice and hopefully in the game, we’re gonna knock them down. We’re getting there often more games than not, just got to go up there and go 2-for-2 or 3-for-3 at the line.”
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