The 2021-22 season has felt like a rollercoaster for the Los Angeles Lakers as they string together moments and games where they look like a legitimate contender, and other nights fall completely flat on their face.
Their game against the Minnesota Timberwolves was about as disappointing of a showing as a fan could have imagined as they were blown out in the second half. Los Angeles looked to be in control in the first half and held a lead for most of it, but the second half was a different story as their outside shooting was non-existent and taking care of the basketball was a struggle.
The third quarter was particularly tragic as the Lakers only scored 12 points and gave up 40 to the Timberwolves, a recipe for disaster. Head coach Frank Vogel acknowledged that the third quarter has been Los Angeles’ Achilles’ heel so far this year.
“Yeah, it was everything. Obviously, our effort hasn’t been good enough in the third quarter consistently throughout this season,” Vogel said. “We’re talking about it and challenging our guys to be better. I don’t know what it was. We get in control early in the game. We play well. Start executing the plan. We’re playing against a team that shoots the most threes in the league and they have that ability to go through stretches where they get really hot.
“That happened around the same time where we were getting beat to loose balls, keeping our man in front of us, weren’t taking pride in protecting the rim and I think we lost like four or five loose balls consecutively. We got to be better with that. Obviously, on the other end, we start pressing.”
The Lakers have proven they can bounce back after tough losses, and Vogel believes that this recent defeat can serve as another kick in the rear to get back on track.
“Well, there’s no better motivator than a bad loss. I think all of our guys are angry, the coaching staff is angry. We’ll get back to work and do whatever we need to do to fix it and get our execution better and all those things. Effort, focus, execution.”
It was an all-around bad performance from the Lakers, who managed to shoot only 35 percent from the field and 22 percent from beyond the arc. Los Angeles clearly tried to shoot themselves back into the game, but it ended up backfiring as they failed to score and allowed Minnesota to gradually build up their lead to as much as 33.
The sense of urgency coming out of the halves has been the most concerning thing about the Lakers as they can never seem to get off to a good start to third quarters. This is a major issue that the Purple and Gold need to rectify if they hope to right the ship and get a good chance to do so on Sunday against the San Antonio Spurs.
Vogel: ‘We’re not a great team until we become one’
It’s no secret the Lakers have championship aspirations this season, but to this point, they have played nothing like a team of that caliber. While Vogel remains confident they can get there, he knows they have a ways to go to reach that level.
“We do have the ability to be a great team this year. Definitely weren’t that tonight and we’re not a great team until we become one.”
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