The Los Angeles Lakers dropped their fourth consecutive game on Thursday night, falling by 13 points on the road to the Utah Jazz. It was their second straight loss by double-digits for Frank Vogel’s team, but the difference in this outing compared to their previous game against the Dallas Mavericks was stark.
Against Dallas, the Lakers dug themselves into a massive hole almost immediately, trailing by 18 points after the first and giving up a ridiculous 82 points in the first half. In fact, the only reason the final score was as close as it was, was due to Dallas scoring just 15 points in the fourth quarter when the game was well out of reach.
On this night, the effort was much better as the shorthanded Lakers, who again without both LeBron James and Anthony Davis, hung around for most of the night and fought hard until the end. That was noticeable to Vogel, who believes his team took a step forward in their performance
“I thought we were better tonight, showed a lot of fight,” Vogel said. “Wasn’t good enough to get the W, needed a few more stops or made threes to go for us and we’re talking about a different night. But I do feel like we responded and played harder and played more together.”
One of the biggest reasons for the Lakers’ loss was the discrepancy in 3-pointers. The Lakers hit just 7-of-25 from deep while Utah knocked down 15 threes on the night. There were multiple times where the Lakers seemed on the verge of really making a game out of it, only to see an open three roll in-and-out of the rim and the Jazz would respond with a three of their own.
Vogel believes those close misses could have really changed the complexion of the game, specifically pointing to one shot Malik Monk missed that would have cut the deficit to seven in the fourth quarter.
“Yeah, he got a clean look. It was a big play, big shot. We knew if we put some pressure on them in the fourth that they’ve had some issues with closing out games, but we weren’t able to close that gap.”
That Monk miss, in particular, probably represented the Lakers’ last good chance at pulling off a comeback. The team had cut the Jazz lead from 18 to 10 with around five minutes left and that Monk three would have gotten the Lakers back within a couple of possessions and forced a Jazz timeout. Instead, the shot rimmed out and the Jazz got a three of their own to basically ice the game.
In the end, the Lakers found themselves once again on the losing end of a game and back outside of the Play-In Tournament. But this was far less of a discouraging outing and with LeBron and Davis potentially coming back in the next game, the Lakers have the potential to build off this performance.
“I do think we took a real positive step in terms of how we played tonight vs. how we played in Dallas,” Vogel concluded.
“We played a far more together game, we played harder and we executed better. We executed our defensive coverages, our defensive e rating still wasn’t what it needed to be but that’s the No. 1 rated offense in the league and to compete short-handed. I thought our guys fought, just some timely buckets that didn’t go in for us that that would’ve given us a chance. So definitely thought it was a positive step.”
James & Davis targeting returns vs. Pelicans
The Lakers are running out of time to salvage this season by making the Play-In Yournament, but major reinforcements could be on the way in the team’s next game.
James is targeting his return from an ankle sprain for Friday’s contest against the New Orleans Pelicans. Furthermore, Davis will be a game-time decision for the same contest as he has worked hard to return from his foot sprain as well.
If the two can come back at a high level, the Lakers could still potentially make some noise if they can somehow get through the Play-In.
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