Fresh of the NBA trade deadline, the Los Angeles Lakers put up a good fight but ultimately lost to the Golden State Warriors in a surprisingly thrilling contest.
It was a tightly contested game throughout the night with both teams trading haymakers, and for a moment, it looked like the Lakers would pull out the win. However, they had no answer for Klay Thompson, who scored a season-high 33 points, with most of it coming in the fourth quarter.
On paper, it looks like Los Angeles just fell short, but on a closer look, this was a game they could have won had they made the most of their opportunities at the foul line. Head coach Frank Vogel sounded disappointed with the results at the charity stripe and emphasized the importance of doing all the small things to win games. “Free-throw shooting keeps hurting us,” Vogel said. “We keep talking about it. We keep putting the work in. That’ll come around.
“If you want to reach the ultimate goal, you have to check all these boxes. Little things that go into the differences in close games that can sway a playoff series. I think it’s five games in a row now we’ve shot under 70 percent, and it’s just something that we’ve got to lock into. We have to have that aspect of it if we’re going to turn the corner.”
Los Angeles ranks among the worst free-throw teams in the league, and against Golden State, they shot a paltry 22-off-33. In a 117-115 loss, that is inexcusable, and the Lakers have themselves primarily to blame for letting a win like this slip through their fingers.
Trailing by three, LeBron James was able to draw free throws after getting fouled from beyond the arc but ended up splitting his first two attempts. James intentionally missed the third one, but L.A. could not get a shot off after collecting the rebound.
Losses like these have huge ramifications given the playoff standings, and it seems more and more likely that the Lakers will end up in the play-in tournament again. The effort and intensity were there at least, and hopefully, they show the same tenacity on Wednesday against the Utah Jazz.
Russell Westbrook wants Lakers to get connected
Russell Westbrook has one less distraction with the deadline behind him as he tries to help rally the team out of their funk. With just over a quarter of the season left to play, Westbrook is looking for the Lakers to get more connected down the stretch to play better basketball.