The Los Angeles Lakers have struggled in a number of phases during their recent skid. L.A. is 2-7 in their last nine games, and have compiled some of their ugliest losses of the season in that time, even with Anthony Davis and LeBron James present for a majority of these outings.
One phase of the game that has alluded them the most is free-throw shooting. On the season, they are shooting just 72.2% from the line as a team, good enough for second-worst in the NBA. But in their last nine games, it’s been particularly horrible.
In a 2-7 stretch, they are shooting a measly 65.2% from the free-throw line as a team. This would be over six percent worse than the NBA’s current worst free-throw shooting team, the Houston Rockets.
Davis, who has played in eight of the last nine games, is a massive contributing factor to their free throw struggles. He’s shot 64.5% from the line in that time and is a career-low 70.7% on the season. He spoke about this and what the team can do to improve. “Got to get in the gym and shoot more free throws,” Davis said.
“That’s the only way to get out of it and it starts with me. I’ve been terrible from the line, especially the last two. I think I missed a total of eight. Maybe over the last three, eleven or something like that. It starts with me being better at the line. I take that personal when I miss free throws.
“But throughout the entire game, especially in crunch time. But we all just got to be better,” Davis said of the Lakers. “Like I said, I started off tonight missing two early and it kind of just trickled down to the team. I think the only way is to take our time and knock them down.
“Obviously, when you miss a lot or some throughout the course of the game, it becomes more mental than anything. You still do your routine, but it becomes more mental because you have time to go out there and think about it. Missing a shot, you don’t have time to think. So I think just clearing your mind and taking our time and knocking free throws down. Like I said, it starts with me. I’ve been bad as of late and I got to change that.”
When a team is shooting this poorly from the line in losses, there is never just one person to blame. Davis shows his leadership by both taking the blame, but also recognizing that improvement is a team-wide necessity.
L.A. is not in a position to give away 10 points per game by missing free throws. If they plan to turn their season around, it starts with making things easier on themselves by making more of their free opportunities.
Frank Vogel pans Lakers free-throw shooting
Vogel paid specific attention to L.A.’s woes at the line following their loss to the Golden State Warriors. The Lakers missed 11 free throws in a game they lost by two points, meaning just a league-average night at the stripe would have resulted in a win.
“If you want to reach the ultimate goal, you have to check all these boxes,” Vogel said. “Little things that go into the differences in close games that can sway a playoff series.”
“I think it’s five games in a row now we’ve shot under 70 percent, and it’s just something that we’ve got to lock into. We have to have that aspect of it if we’re going to turn the corner.”
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