The Los Angeles Lakers may be missing Anthony Davis, but they had no business losing to one of the worst teams in the NBA in the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.
The Lakers took control early on in the game, but as has been the case throughout the 2022-23 season, they allowed the Hornets to stick around and eventually found a way to lose. The last offensive possession was an encapsulation of the night as LeBron James somehow lost his shoe on a drive and Dennis Schroder missed a corner three that would’ve given Los Angeles the lead and presumable win.
It’s the third consecutive loss for the Lakers, who feel like they’re starting to spiral in the absence of Davis. However, this is a game that L.A. should’ve been able to come up with and head coach Darvin Ham didn’t mince words when talking about his team’s performance.
“At the end of the day, this one pisses me off a little bit because, again, we constantly talked about with our team as a staff, our self-inflicted wounds. Not protecting the paint, not holding teams to one possession as we played our tails off defensively to give up second to third opportunities to them on the offensive glass. And then once we get the ball, not being disciplined with our running habits. Turning the ball over. 17 turnovers, 32 points for them. We can control that. 62 points in the paint, we can control that with our shifts and activity and being better on the ball.
“We have to do a much, much better job again of maintaining competitiveness. Closing out teams. Holding to one possession, possession by possession, just holding them the one shot. And when we get the ball being organized, being better organized. And as a staff, we’re gonna work our asses off to make sure we do just that we get better in those areas. And to me, that’s the story of the game.”
Ham has every right to feel angry about this one considering the Lakers were in a position to win it late, but a transition turnover followed by a goaltending call on the other end was a back-breaking sequence. Those kinds of self-inflicted wounds Ham referenced have happened in crunch time way too many times, and this was just the most recent example of L.A. not being able to close things out.
The loss stings even more considering that James had one of his strongest fourth quarter performances of the season, scoring 18 of his game-high 34 points as he led a furious comeback. The Lakers fell behind by double digits before the King turned it up offensively, essentially trying to will his team to a victory before ultimately falling short.
This is the kind of defeat that usually prompts change, and Ham should have enough evidence by now to make some tweaks. The low-hanging fruit is the starting backcourt of Patrick Beverley and Schroder, who each had decent games against the Hornets but were outplayed by their bench counterparts in Russell Westbrook and Austin Reaves.
Whatever the solution is, Ham needs to find it fast before the Purple and Gold fall even further in the standings.
LeBron James says injuries can’t erase Lakers’ competitive spirit
The loss of Davis is a gut punch for the Lakers who need him to be at their absolute best. It’s demoralizing having to play without a superstar, but James is urging the team not to lose their competitive spirit despite the mounting injuries.
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