The Los Angeles Lakers have let another win slip through their fingers, falling 104-99 to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday.
L.A. took the lead 16 seconds into the game thanks to the first of LeBron James’ eight triples that night — holding onto their advantage until the fourth quarter. Then, the Grizzlies tied the game at 83-83 with 10:45 left on the clock, overcoming a 14-point deficit.
Four minutes later, Memphis leapfrogged Los Angeles and never gave the lead back. The game remained a close contest until the very end but a last-second turnover by James sealed the Lakers’ fate.
“I got to go back and watch it, it all happened pretty fast,” acting head coach David Fizdale said of his team’s collapse that started at the end of the third quarter.
“But one thing I think that just probably hurt us the most down the stretch was the turnovers and the ‘one more play’ where the easy play to make one more pass to an open man. But I got to go back and watch the film.”
Fizdale said the Lakers’ tendency to pass up on an easy play in favor of a more “glamorous” one has been haunting the team throughout the season.
“A lot, that’s a big part of our offensive edits…Because teams really load up on the ball against us, I think you see that, so just making that play in front of you, which is not a sexy play, it’s not glamorous, but it’s effective,” the coach said.
“And that play often, if made enough times, will open the floor for you. So that’s something that we just got to keep working at, we’re gonna keep coaching it and I think eventually we’ll get it consistently.”
L.A. scored just 16 points in the fourth quarter, only five more than Grizzlies starlet Ja Morant chalked up by himself during that stretch. Fizdale emphasized the dip in the Lakers’ energy on the offensive end late in the game, saying the lethargy cost the team dearly.
“It was a lack of energy and effort put into making them work defensively,” he said.
“It turned into stand around and watch and against a team like Memphis, if you stand and watch, the way that they get at it and turn you over and protect the paint, you will get a 16-point quarter. Coming off a 29-point quarter with ball movement, sharing it, good things happening, for whatever reason we ran out of offensive energy.”
Fizdale: Lakers need to fight urge to “will it” when in trouble during games
Fizdale said the Lakers need to respond better to the pressure that mounts when they endure a rough stretch during a game.
“I always think when you’re going through a rough patch, again, you always got to fight that ‘I can do it’ vs. ‘just make the right play.’ Because you’re in that stressful scenario, you’re stressing about are we gonna win this game, are we gonna get over the hump,” he said.
“And I think when players get that angst about them, oftentimes they’re put in a position where they feel like they got to either will it or make the easy play, sometimes the ‘will’ will oversee the easy play. So we just got to keep fighting that urge and keep trying to make the right play, the easy play to build trust so that later in the season, that’s not even a thought.”
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