The first half of the Los Angeles Lakers’ game against the Charlotte Hornets went about as expected considering they were without LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
James and Davis were ruled out with knee and wrist ailments, respectively, leaving the Lakers in a familiar shorthanded situation against a rising Hornets team. Los Angeles played a sluggish first half of basketball and went into halftime down by 16, well on their way to another blowout loss on the road.
However, the second half was a completely different story as the Lakers played with much more intensity and effort, resulting in a tight game down the stretch. Although they ultimately lost after a Russell Westbrook 3-pointer did not go down at the buzzer it was a valiant effort and one L.A. should feel proud of despite the result.
Austin Reaves played a large part in the team’s comeback and credited the energy and positionless lineups that head coach Frank Vogel opted to go with in the second half.
“I’m just gonna say energy. We tried to get out on the break, really play at a fast pace and play positionless basketball,” Reaves said. “It didn’t matter who was pushing it, it didn’t matter who filled the corners, but really just getting to our spots and playing out of that, creating space for the guy with the ball and even just setting flare screens.
“Like Stanley, he does a really good job of setting weakside flare screens, pin downs, stuff like that to occupy the weak side even if it does get reversed over there. But it occupies that side for Russ to get downhill and then there’s no big in the lane so he can go shoot a layup, or if there is a big then you got someone wide open and you got Russ that can make plays like that. So just all those things were a factor.”
It was a great response from the Lakers considering how flat they looked the previous night in their loss to the Philadelphia 76ers and Reaves noted that he could feel the difference in how the team played.
“Like you said, just the energy change, you could feel it. I don’t know if you really can explain it and pinpoint a time of where it changed, but you could definitely feel it. Like Frank said, you felt a positive energy for a lot of the night. It wasn’t going our way in the first half, but we stuck to it and in the second half we started getting results and made it a game.”
It is fair to assume that Los Angeles could have probably come away with a win had they played with that energy from the second half for all four quarters, but that has been a theme throughout their season. The Lakers will allow teams to build up large leads early in the game before they decide to turn it on late in hopes of making an impressive comeback.
In their defense, any time a team is on the second end of a back-to-back, it can be difficult to muster up the requisite energy for an entire game. Compounded with the absences of James and Davis, L.A. was a long shot to pull off a victory against Charlotte, but at least made it interesting at the end.
Reaves and the Lakers have a chance to end their road trip on a high note when they play the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday, but hopefully they come out of the gate with more energy to avoid any uphill climbs.
Reaves believes second unit ‘played hard’
Against the Hornets, it was the second unit that kept the Lakers in the game when the starters struggled, and Reaves explained why he thinks that was despite some of the guys that played well not being normal rotation members.
“I feel like we just played hard. We got a lot of talented people on the team and I feel like if we play hard and do the right thing, it went well. But like you said, we made runs but it wasn’t enough.”
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