The Los Angeles Lakers lost a winnable game on Monday night, falling to the Clippers, 120-115. One of the main talking points was head coach Luke Walton’s lineup combinations and rotations, particularly down the stretch.
Kyle Kuzma and Jordan Clarkson, two of the Lakers’ best offensive weapons in the game, both found themselves on the bench in the final minutes. Walton instead turned to rookie Lonzo Ball late, while Larry Nance Jr. and Julius Randle were the bigs.
“We needed to try to find a combination of scoring and defense. We had to go to a lot of different lineups early because of foul trouble,” Walton explained.
“We had some guys offensively that weren’t playing any defense. And then we had guys that were going defensively but weren’t making plays on the offensive end. So we were just trying to find a nice combination of that mix.”
Kuzma eventually returned to the court, but only with 48 seconds left and the Lakers clinging to a slim hope of pulling out a win. Walton lamented the individual defense that was played, later mentioning Kuzma among the culprits who were subpar in that area.
Finding the right combination of offense and defense can be very tough, especially when there are a lack of two-way players on the roster. While Kuzma was excellent offensively and had some lapses on the other end of the floor, the same could be said for Clarkson.
The flip side to that, however, is that someone like Nance, who was excellent defensively, doesn’t provide as much on offense and it puts more pressure on the one or two scoring threats to make something happen.
Overall, Walton wants players locked in both ends every night and that didn’t happen against the Clippers. There will be continued growing pains for both the players and Walton, but that is to be expected as the franchise continues to lay the foundation for this new generation of Lakers basketball.
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