The Los Angeles Lakers’ third consecutive loss came at the hand of arguably the best team in the NBA, the Phoenix Suns. Much of the criticism and anger for the Lakers’ struggles in this contest pointed towards Talen Horton-Tucker and Russell Westbrook.
Horton-Tucker was in his first game back after returning from the NBA’s health and safety protocols and it showed as he shot just 1-of-13 from the field and 0-of-8 from 3-point range. This was an unfortunate outing for Horton-Tucker, who was on a run of solid outings before being forced out of the lineup.
But assistant coach David Fizdale says the coaches use film sessions to really help correct these mistakes, especially when it comes to young players such as Horton-Tucker.
“We coach it…We coach it hard. We just had a great team film session where we showed a lot of his struggles,” Fizdale said. “Some of his shots were good shots, but the ones that weren’t, we coached him on those, we coached him on some of his decisions at the paint where he could’ve made an extra pass. We don’t let anything fall through the cracks with the young guys.
“A veteran guy, you might be able to brush over some of that stuff because they’ve been through it and it was just a bad game, but our young bucks, they’re being developed and they need to understand good basketball from bad basketball and he’s a very receptive and he’s a guy that wants to be good.”
For the players such as Horton-Tucker, Austin Reaves and Malik Monk, it is important to identify each of these issues in film and then work on fixing it on the court. While veterans have been through it and usually know what to fix, young players need more development and Fizdale realizes the importance of film to help find and fix these mistakes.
For Westbrook, the issue wasn’t his shooting, but rather the turnovers. The guard seemed to be taking better care of the ball and limiting the turnovers, but over the last two games has given it away 13 times. Fizdale again used film to identify the issues and thinks Westbrook could be trying to do too much with the Lakers down so many players.
“He really was making strides and I think the circumstances over the last few games, I think with so many people being in and out triggered in him that he had to save us,” Fizdale said. “So some of his plays, he was probably moving too fast or trying to press when things weren’t there.”
Fizdale would also point to the Lakers’ lack of chemistry due to people being in and out of the lineup as contributing to the turnover issues as well.
“Talen has been out for a few games, he was playing great, he comes back and he’s struggling. IT just got added to the team, Trevor just got thrown in the mix. At some point it’s just rhythm and connection and understanding when a guy is zigging, I need to be zagging,” the acting head coach added.
“Those type of things, so we saw that on the film, it’s easy to look at the stat line and say Russ has seven turnovers and it’s on Russ. But three or four of those are guys not getting to their spacing or not adjusting how they’re supposed to adjust as Russ attacks.”
There are a lot of issues for the Lakers to fix in the coming games, but the coaches and players are all on the same page in putting in the work to do so.
Westbrook says Lakers must stick together through rough stretches
Despite all of the issues the Lakers have continued to go through all season long, Westbrook still believes in this team and stressed the importance of sticking together through these rough patches.
“I’m very optimistic. We’ve been through so much as a team already and still going through it as a unit. And the best part about it for me this far is just the ups and downs. That’s the NBA season. The most important part is that we stay together, never divide, never panic, never succumb to what the people on the outside of our team are saying.
“Just make sure that we stay close-knit and find ways to be able to stick together through whatever it is because we’re a team that doesn’t rely on excuses. We understand the circumstance that we have in our locker room and we got to make the best of it, it’s as simple as that.”
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