While the Los Angeles Lakers have had ebbs and flows with their defense, they’ve improved in the area when compared to last season, leaving free-throwing shooting as their Achilles heel. Their 69.7 percent from the charity stripe ranks last in the NBA.
The Lakers have suffered an abundance of losses this season because of a failure to convert at the line, both in pressure situations and throughout the course of a game. Excluding newly-acquired Isaiah Thomas, no Lakers regular rotation player is shooting better than Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s 75 percent.
The team managed to flip the tide on Saturday night as they fought to hold on against the Sacramento Kings. Though, Thomas was at the center of the Lakers converting clutch free throws to ice a second consecutive win.
Considering their well-documented troubles, Thomas said he was surprised the Kings allowed him to get the ball, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“A little bit. I mean it’s easy points, so I’m always willing to be that guy to take the big free throws. My teammates found me and gave me the ball. I just had to knock them down.”
The Lakers made 14 of 20 attempts (70 percent) at the free throw line in their win against the Kings. Julius Randle was the primary culprit for their misses, as he failed to knock down any of his five. It prompted him to head to the Kings practice court to work on his free-throw shooting.
Thomas, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart combined to make all eight of their free throws late in the game, and the Lakers as a team went 10-for-11 in the fourth quarter.
Head coach Luke Walton has tried multiple approaches in addressing their troubles, including meditation, shooting drills, and even not broaching the subject in the event it was counterproductive.
While nothing has seemed to solve the issue, at the very least the Lakers will have Thomas to turn to over the next five weeks.
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