The 2022-23 season has been a rollercoaster ride for the Los Angeles Lakers, and they endured another downward spiral after losing to the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.
The Lakers held a 14-point lead early in the game but saw that quickly erased in the second quarter. Los Angeles managed to battle back in the second half and briefly reclaimed the lead before falling apart in the closing minutes. It’s a familiar story this season as the Lakers have a knack for finding ways to lose.
Even against a Sacramento team that was missing Domantis Sabonis, L.A. managed to lose in a few areas. They were outrebounded 47-36 and allowed the Kings to shoot 27 free throws compared to just 18 for themselves. Darvin Ham believes the second-chance points and careless fouls in the fourth quarter are what spelled the team’s demise.
“I think two of the key ingredients to us not coming out with the W,” Ham said. “We gave up too many second-chance points early on. There was a time we came out with a great rhythm offensively and defensively, for that matter. We just allowed them too many second and third opportunities. Giving up 10 offensive rebounds, and I think it was 16 points in the first half, and then that went down to four. And then, late in the game, our fouling. Not being disciplined showing our hands all the way through the possession. That was pretty tough as well. And we got up against the clock a little bit, a little too much indecisiveness in terms of either shooting the ball, passing it, or driving it. Just being able to make those quick, split-second decisions. We kind of struggle with later down the stretch.
“But tomorrow we’ll go in and look at film. See what we clean up. It’s tough because we’ve got this big collage of games, and it sucks to lose these close games. But you know, I still feel wholeheartedly that at some point we’re going to break all the way through. We were competing, in my opinion, at a very high level. We got guys that were trying to mix and match due to injury. So trying to find out what collection of players down the stretch that you can go with. It’s challenging, but you know, guys are doing their part. They’re trying to step up and make plays. And I love the way we’ve competed, we’ve gotten down in stretches, and we fought our way back into it to give ourselves a chance to win. That’s all you can ask for us to be competitive and be together.”
As has been the case all season, the Lakers are unable to maintain leads or climb back from deficits without LeBron James on the floor. L.A. leans heavily on James to control the offense, so Ham believes when he or Russell Westbrook are off the floor individuals have a hard time making decisions.
“I mean, that’s a great question,” Ham said when asked about the team’s indecisiveness, especially late in games. “I think it’s a couple of things when Bron is out there, he’s leading the charge. Bron needs help. And when Russ is out there, he’s leading the charge. And Russ needs help. And the more guys can just not even think twice about it, read and react. The more that’s when we’ve done that, the games we’ve won, the games that we’ve had five, six, seven different people in double figures. I think that’s a result of that. But at this point in time, you just can’t can’t overthink it, like it’s just make a simple play. That’s it. I always tough tell the guys, the one mistake you can make is just to not compete. Outside of that, just play within yourself, play within the system, and be disciplined. And fatigue, I think has a little bit to do with it as well, you know, with the schedule. Even though we’re home, we’re playing back-to-back Sunday, Monday, game Wednesday, today, another game Friday, and opponents, the competition level is elite. So, I think just a mixture of all those things. But sitting here 20-25, we have 37 games left to play to try to get things right, we just can’t keep saying OK, we can do it the first week of February or the first week of March. No, it has to start now. And we’re gonna pick ourselves up, we fill our cups and look at it and see what we did well and try to sustain that and see what we didn’t do so well and try to correct that.”
Playmaking is a weak point of the roster as James and Westbrook are the only two players who can put real pressure on the rim with the ball in their hands. If neither James nor Westbrook are breaking down defenses, then possessions devolve into different players going one-on-one and that often leads to poor results.
It was another frustrating performance from the Purple and Gold, who had a real chance to make a dent in the standings and work themselves back into the playoff picture. The margin of error for this team is miniscule considering how many players are out, and at this point of the season losses like these feel even more magnified.
Unfortunately, the schedule does not let up as they draw the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday. If the Lakers aren’t careful, they could find themselves in a hole dug deep enough to keep them buried.
Lakers interested in Cam Reddish, Knicks trade talks intensifying
One way Los Angeles can save itself is by making a trade and the Lakers been linked to several players. One of them is New York Knicks forward Cam Reddish, who is expected to be dealt before the deadline as talks intensify.
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