Even though LeBron James was ruled out for the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Los Angeles Lakers should have been able to put away the rebuilding squad.
Instead, they suffered another dispiriting letdown when they let the Thunder come back from a 19-point deficit to beat the Lakers for the second time this season. It was a tale of two halves as Los Angeles was firmly in control in the first, but faltered in the second when Oklahoma City made adjustments that the Lakers could not seem to figure out.
In an interview with Spectrum SportsNet’s Mike Trudell, Austin Reaves admitted he and the team have to do a better job of putting away teams early:
“First half we have them down 20, 25 at one point I think…it was 19, 20 regardless if you get a lead like that in this league you got to keep your foot on the gas. It’s the pros for a reason, everybody makes plays, everybody’s good. If you get in that situation, you just got to keep the pedal down and keep it at that and don’t give them any breath. I think that’s where we really messed up is in those situations we let them get a little field goal and then out of halftime they played well.”
Head coach Frank Vogel likes to emphasize a next man up attitude whenever injuries hit, and Reaves echoed his sentiments:
“It’s basketball, it’s sports, there’s injuries. There’s little things in games where people are gonna be out for a little stretch, so you really just gotta come together. It’s next man up mentality, coach was talking about it during halftime. Nobody’s going to fill LeBron’s shoes, but if everybody steps up and just does a little more then we’ll accommodate for the amount that LeBron does for us.”
The fact the Lakers were able to take such a big lead against the Thunder means they could have very easily won this game, but instead coasted in key stretches. Some credit should go to Oklahoma City for fighting back and making it a game late, but this was L.A.’s game to win and they fell short.
The next stretch of games could get ugly if the Lakers do not turn things around, so it will be interesting to see how they respond against the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday.
LeBron James to miss at least a week
James apparently hurt himself in their win against the Rockets, but it was still a surprise to see him ruled out considering he finished that game. James suffered an abdominal injury and is expected to miss a week.
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