Coming off their best win of the 2021-22 season against the Utah Jazz, it finally felt like the Los Angeles Lakers had something to build off of during what has been a disappointing year.
Instead, they completely dropped the ball against a struggling Indiana Pacers team on Wednesday night. The Lakers actually led the Pacers in the first half by as many as 15 points, but they took their foot off the gas pedal in the second half and utterly collapsed in the fourth quarter.
It seemed like Los Angeles was going to build some momentum, especially on a night they welcomed Carmelo Anthony back to the lineup. Anthony missed L.A.’s last three games with a back injury but managed to play 30 minutes in his first game back.
After the loss, Anthony noted he felt physically fine back out on the court although he did not how rough the last week was for him.
“I was good. I felt good, my body felt good, my back felt good,” Anthony said. “Going from not being able to get out the bed, drive, get in and out of the car, those days were tough. Not being able to eat, not being able to sleep because of your back, to now where I went back out there and played 30 minutes tonight, nothing was lingering. I felt good.”
Anthony added that having some time off actually did some good for him.
“A week and some change definitely helped from a physicality standpoint and a mental standpoint as well. Anytime you get a chance to get a break, I don’t want to say take a break, but you get a break, you want to utilize that.”
The forward had a solid night off the bench, scoring 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting while adding seven rebounds and two blocks. However, Anthony had a rough outing from beyond the arc as he missed all five of his attempts, including a couple of wide looks in the fourth quarter that could have swung the game back in the Lakers’ favor.
While Anthony’s back may have held up fine, his defensive showing in the final period left much to be desired as the Pacers targeted him on actions that ultimately led to a deficit that the Lakers could not overcome. Of course, it was not entirely Anthony’s fault for Los Angeles’ dispiriting loss but he was clearly a liability when it came to closing out the night.
Having Anthony back in the lineup should help the Purple and Gold as they embark on their six-game road trip, but the team once again faces questions about their effort and intensity levels that have persisted all season. A date with the Orlando Magic is the perfect opportunity to get right, but it is hard to feel too confident about their chances of coming away with a victory.
Anthony credits LeVert for fourth quarter scoring
The Pacers player who really killed the Lakers in the fourth quarter was Caris LeVert as he had 22 of his 30 points in the final period. Anthony credited him for being able to exploit the Lakers’ defensive scheme.
“We were sticking to what our scheme was. [Caris] LeVert is a player who knows how to play in those small spots. He can get to those spots- if you don’t stop him before you get to that spot, that’s on anybody who works that type of game, and he works on that. He works on those spots. He’s very efficient at times from those midrange spots. He turned it up in the fourth.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!