Even without LeBron James, the Los Angeles Lakers gave themselves a chance to comeback but ultimately fell short against the San Antonio Spurs on Monday night.
Russell Westbrook and the rest of the Lakers went to toe-to-toe with the Spurs for most of the game, but unfortunately seemed to run out of gas at the wrong moment. Los Angeles had several opportunities in the fourth quarter to steal a win but could not get stops when they needed them most.
Without James in the lineup, head coach Frank Vogel turned to ultra-small lineups to help grease the offense but he felt like his team could have been better defensively.
“We got to guard better, whatever lineups we have out there,” Vogel said. “It doesn’t matter, we didn’t do well with our big lineup for the most part and obviously they got an All-Star point guard out there that has a great chemistry with Poeltl going to the basket for his short flip shots and crashes. I thought we did a decent job trying to switch and blow up some of that action but just not good enough.”
The Lakers’ biggest deficit of the night was 14 and instead of folding, they found a way to climb back and even take a lead. While Vogel was proud of them for not giving up, the end result did not go their way and he admitted there is not much to cheer about.
“Yeah, there’s definitely still fight in us, but we’re definitely still growing. I don’t think that part has changed and obviously you want to get to two wins in a row. So no moral victories with that, but our guys did fight.”
Against another team trying to get into the Play-In Tournament, Los Angeles could have really used a victory to keep San Antonio from climbing up the standings, but instead, they lost a little footing. The loss also narrows the gap between them and the 10-seed New Orleans Pelicans, who are suddenly playing their best basketball and feel like a lock to hold on to their spot.
Regardless of whether or not the Lakers won, the sad reality is there has not been much to celebrate during the 2021-22 season. The only hope they have now is that James is able to return against the Houston Rockets and help them get back on track.
Vogel believes Lakers forced too many shots at rim against Spurs
One problem the Lakers found themselves trying to solve was the Spurs’ interior defense. Players had trouble finishing through the Spurs’ contests in the paint and Vogel believes his team simply forced too much.
“I got to look at the tape but I thought we had too many possessions where we forced at the rim,” Vogel said. “We only had 19 assists, we have to play extra pass basketball. [The Spurs] are the best passing team in the league with their assist totals and we’ll use that as a motivator to encourage our guys to play extra pass, no force basketball, but we just had too many possessions where we forced at the rim.”
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