The Los Angeles Lakers came crashing back down to earth on Sunday afternoon, getting blown out by the L.A. Clippers, 104-86, at Staples Center.
The Clippers led the game from wire to wire, outplaying the Lakers severely on both ends and never allowing them to get anywhere within reach. The Lakers struggled to score, shooting only 40% from the field and 30% from downtown. Several players on the Lakers turned down open looks in search of better ones, but the Clippers snuffed those out and forced the Purple and Gold to settle for poor shots.
With the loss, the Lakers slipped to the fifth seed in the Western Conference and are only a half-game up on the six-seed Portland Trail Blazers. Despite the skid, head coach Frank Vogel said he and the team are not concerned about where they are in the standings.
“We’re really staying in the moment and we had an opportunity to get past the Clippers with a win today. Disappointed we didn’t get that done, but other than that, we’re not looking at the standings at all. We’re just looking at winning the next game,” Vogel said.
Talen Horton-Tucker reinforced Vogel’s point, noting he has not been paying attention to the Lakers’ place in the playoff race. “For me personally, I’m not,” Horton-Tucker said.”
“As a group, we don’t hear too much, we just try focus on the next game ahead. We feel like if we take care of what we do, the standings will take care of themselves. With the guys we have out now, when everything comes full circle I think we’ll be fine.”
The mindset from Vogel and Horton-Tucker is the correct one to have, but it does not remove them from the reality that they could be soon looking at a possible play-in tournament scenario. It is more than likely the Lakers will fall to sixth in the next week given their upcoming schedule, and even though the Dallas Mavericks are currently three games behind them, they have a favorable schedule the rest of the way.
Although LeBron James and Anthony Davis are scheduled to return sometime in the next couple of weeks, Los Angeles will definitely have ground to make up if they want to avoid an extra game come playoff time.
Lakers path to a championship more difficult as a lower seed
Even though the Lakers will be favored in any series if they are healthy during the postseason, their chances of repeating get slimmer the farther they fall in the standings. Having to play a team like the Utah Jazz or L.A. Clippers in the first round would be daunting, and that could wear them out as the playoffs go on.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!