While the Los Angeles Lakers added the game’s best player in LeBron James and completed that by signing multiple veterans to add to a talented young core, there nevertheless was an expectation the group would need time to adjust and gel.
That process began during the summer with pickup games at the Lakers’ practice facility and has carried into the early stages of the season. After a slow start that included tough losses to playoff opponents, the Lakers have won three in a row and five of their last six.
The improved stretch of play has still come with lapses and inconsistent stretches. Among them is the Lakers squandering leads in the fourth quarter.
During an appearance on “Lakers Talk with Allen Sliwa,” Kyle Kuzma explained how he believes the Lakers can solve that issue, via ESPN L.A. Radio:
“You can never take your foot off the gas. You always have to be in attack mode. I think a lot of times, down the stretch of games, we kind of get slower and slower as the game goes on. For us, we’ve got to keep playing to our strengths and realizing we’re best when we’re in attack mode. I think that’s one thing we can do to neutralize the sluggish fourth quarters we’ve had.”
In three of their wins this season — against the Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trail Blazers and Atlanta Hawks — the Lakers have led by double-digits in the fourth quarter, only for the game to come down to the final minutes or seconds.
They were on the verge of suffering a collapse against the Hawks, saved only by James put-back slam dunk and Tyson Chandler’s block at the buzzer. Closing games out was an area the Lakers struggled in last season, albeit for a different reason.
It was attributed to youth and not having a proven leader such as James or Rajon Rondo, whereas this season the trouble can be traced to the halfcourt offense becoming stagnant and defensive effort dropping off.