The Los Angeles Lakers looked like two completely different teams in their pair of games in New York. In Brooklyn against the Nets, they put forth one of their best performances of the season, but in Madison Square Garden against the Knicks, it was the opposite.
The Lakers were physically dominated by the Knicks in their 15-point loss, turning the ball over 24 times while being out-rebounded by 14, including allowing 15 offensive rebounds. They were also outscored 54-38 in the paint and the Lakers simply couldn’t get things in gear offensively on a consistent basis.
Turnovers were the main issue for the Lakers on this night, far more than the Nets game, which has been the case more often than the team would like this season. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope gave spoke on the difference between the two games for the team.
“Our passes were off. We weren’t hitting guys right in their shooting pocket. Throwing crazy passes,” Caldwell-Pope said after the game. “Great pressure and hot hands to force those type of passes for us. Offense was a little stagnant and it wasn’t as fluid as it was last game.”
The Knicks themselves were obviously a major factor in the Lakers’ performance. While the Nets rank 25th in the NBA in points allowed and defensive efficiency, the Knicks came into the game allowing the fewest points in the league and fourth in defensive efficiency.
Tom Thibodeau’s team made a concerted effort to pack the paint against the Lakers and Caldwell-Pope believes that made a huge difference.
“Yeah, it was,” the Lakers guard added. “Then they were closing out hot, which forced the shooters even myself off the three-point line. Forcing tough contested twos or contested at the rim. They did a good job of that tonight.”
The Lakers shot just 12-of-36 from deep against the Knicks and, as Caldwell-Pope pointed out, had many other potential attempts bothered by the New York’s effort to closeout on shooters. That in itself led to some turnovers as the Lakers often found themselves overpassing as they looked for a better shot.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, their offensive struggles were exacerbated by a superior defensive effort from a much better defensive team than they saw in the previous game.
Normally in games such as these, the Lakers are fortunate enough to have LeBron James and Anthony Davis to bail them out, but with both still on the sideline, the Lakers will have to find to create better offense for themselves against tough competition.
Vogel believes Lakers are eager to make up for performance
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel pointed to many of the same issues as Caldwell-Pope noted that contributed to the team’s struggle as opposed to the prior contest. “Really poor passing,” he noted. “Some bad decisions and some of it you have to credit the defense, but as good as we were offensively two nights ago, we were just as bad tonight.”
Thankfully for the Lakers, they have a chance to right that wrong immediately on the second night of a back-to-back and Vogel believes his team is looking forward to it.
“This doesn’t feel good. Losing like this doesn’t feel good, so all of our guys are eager to get back after it tomorrow.”
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