The Los Angeles Lakers came up short against the New Orleans Pelicans 119-112 on Sunday night. That loss didn’t come without the team fighting tooth and nail to come back from a 22-point deficit to take a five-point lead with five minutes remaining.
The lineup that sparked a 29-6 Lakers run was an unlikely one, consisting of Jordan Clarkson, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, and Julius Randle. In fact, head coach Luke Walton admitted he didn’t think the lineup had ever played together.
With Walton searching for answers as the Lakers continued to struggle, that is what he came up with and it worked. The rookie Kuzma explained why he believed they were able to battle back via Bill Oram of the OC Register:
“We were playing for each other,” Kuzma said. “We were getting scores, then we were getting stops. Score, stop. That’s how you cut leads and ultimately that’s how you win games, too.”
Defense was definitely a major catalyst for the Lakers’ run and it is always easier to get baskets when the team is getting stops first. As Kuzma noted, that is the way to win games and even though the Lakers didn’t get a win, this should serve as an example of how the team needs to play every night.
The unselfishness was on display as well with Clarkson operating as the point guard and setting up scores not only for himself but for Kuzma and Randle as well. Everything that Walton has been preaching, this lineup did and it nearly led to a victory.
The Lakers have a couple of days off until they host the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night. The team will have to take this time to harness that energy and style of this lineup and transfer it to the rest of the team and hopefully, the wins will start to come.