The Los Angeles Lakers didn’t use the morale boost provided by the return of LeBron James and lost 130-108 to the Boston Celtics after a dreadful performance on both ends of the floor.
L.A. again took its foot off the gas pedal after the first quarter, which they ended with an eight-point lead. Having outscored the Celtics 38-30 in that period, Boston then outscored the Lakers 100-70 over the rest of the game.
In what has become a norm for Los Angeles, the Celtics dominated the most in the third quarter, taking the lead which they never gave back.
The Lakers’ offense was static while the defense seemed unable to make stops, allowing the Celtics to thrive in the paint. Head coach Frank Vogel noted a lack of urgency in his team’s performance after showing off some “beautiful” basketball in the first quarter.
“We have to get committed to playing as a team offensively and when we do like we saw in the first quarter, it looks beautiful and you see the potential of what we can be, but we got into holding the ball too much and not playing for each other enough,” Vogel said.
“But that’s part of learning each other and building that cohesiveness and the right habits.”
Vogel continued: “And then defensively, guys are going to have big roles if they commit to the defensive side and if they don’t, they’re not.
“It’s that simple because we didn’t get it done anywhere near the level that we need to on the defensive side of the ball and there’s going to be some growing pains with cohesion and habits, but that definitely was not good enough tonight.”
Vogel added the Lakers want Talen Horton-Tucker to start guarding the opponent’s best player, which can result in “some growing pains.” Horton-Tucker covered Jayson Tatum for over five minutes on Friday, allowing the Celtics forward to sink both of his 3-point attempts.
Tatum tormented L.A., scoring 37 points and adding 11 rebounds to lead Boston to a commanding win over the Lakers.
Vogel explains switching defense to zone
As the Celtics took over in the third quarter, Vogel made defensive adjustments and switched to a 2-3 zone. That helped L.A. briefly stop the bleeding but didn’t make a major impact on the game.
After the game, Vogel said he was rather forced to move away from the man-to-man defense because of the events on the floor.
“I’m not really a fan of playing a zone, but sometimes you have some matchups that are a problem for you out there,” he said. “You can either bring double teams to it or you can just try to play zone. Sometimes a zone can slow down an opponent. It did for a stretch there, but we started losing guys.
“It doesn’t matter if you are in a man or zone, you got to box out, which we didn’t do time after time again. The rebounding was atrocious and we got to be better.”
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