Though the Los Angeles Lakers won only one game on their seven-game road trip, the team had opportunities in a number of others. The two that stand out in particular were back-to-back games against the Charlotte Hornets and Miami Heat in which the Lakers had 19-point leads only to lose them.
The Lakers won their first game back home last night against the Clippers, 111-102, but nearly saw another lead blown as the Clippers cut a 15 points lead to a single possession. Third-year guard Jordan Clarkson, the oldest of the Lakers’ young core, knows why the Lakers struggle to maintain leads.
After practice, Clarkson said that the Lakers need to grow up and stop relaxing when they get ahead, via Joey Ramirez of Lakers.com:
“We’ve just gotta grow up, to be honest with you,” Jordan Clarkson said. “When the game starts getting easy for us, we tend to relax. That’s when we’ve got to put the foot down and continue to do what we’re supposed to do.”
The Lakers are going through the ups and downs that most young teams experience. Getting too excited and easing up when pulling far ahead is something that can be difficult to overcome, but the Lakers have to figure it out.
The good thing for the Lakers is that they have a nice group of veterans who can help them through rough times and teach the young guys valuable lessons. Lou Williams, Nick Young, Luol Deng, and Timofey Mozgov have all been great at times and have helped to guide the Lakers when things get tough. Their presence could help the Lakers develop that killer instinct even sooner.
Clarkson understands that these Lakers have a lot of potential, but must start getting out of these bad habits. Luke Walton has already spoken about focusing more on simple plays and locking in on defense more consistently, and if the Lakers buy in things could turn around.