The Los Angeles Lakers put together a sloppy performance on both ends of the floor in their Game 1 loss to the Phoenix Suns. On offense, everyone struggled to hit shots with any consistency. This included Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who has been their best shooter all season.
On defense, the Lakers failed to contain Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton, as the duo attacked the Lakers big men in the pick-and-roll, leading to open dunks for Ayton or minimally contested shots from Booker. Across the board, things need to be better in Game 2 if they want to steal home-court advantage.
Caldwell-Pope is fully aware of this, as he discussed what the team can do to bounce back. “I just believe in the group of guys that we have,” Caldwell-Pope said. “We’ve got a lot of power on the court and on the bench and we just got to come out with a sense of urgency.
“We knew they were gonna come out strong, it was their first playoff series in a long time, they were gonna be hungry for it and I feel like we wasn’t ready for what they had for us to start the game. We played from behind the whole time, couldn’t get over that hump. I just believe in the guys that we have and I feel like we can get the job done by just slowing it down, playing our basketball.”
For the second game in a row — including the Play-In Tournament game, the Lakers let the opponent dictate the tempo in the first half. Caldwell-Pope spoke about why this might be happening and what they need to do to avoid it in Game 2.
“I don’t know. We played the Warriors most of the time but I don’t know if it was just a feel-out game, it was an early noon game for our guys, just waking up maybe.
“The energy just wasn’t there to start the game but what kind of picked it up at the end of the second going into halftime. I just feel like we just got to come prepared. We do a lot of film work and less practices than we’ve had so it’s just film work so we got to be able to apply it to the court once we leave the film room. I feel like we wasn’t ready at all.”
It’s easy to say that the fix is just to hit more shots. However, Caldwell-Pope believes there’s a formula to make that happen.
“Create better opportunities,” he said. “We had a bunch that were open, I think a majority or even half were open threes, we just didn’t hit the shots. We just got to be ready to shot knowing they show a lot of attention to AD and LeBron so on the back end we have to be ready to shoot. Just being prepared, get in the gym when you have time to get in the gym and get some shots up. Just being ready knowing that the ball is gonna come when they double.”
The Lakers have plenty to work on to win Game 2, and it cannot be overstated how important this game is. A 1-1 series heading back to L.A. puts the Lakers firmly in the driver’s seat to move to the second round. However, an 0-2 deficit against a young and confident Suns team may be difficult to overcome.
Everyone, from Anthony Davis and LeBron James to the role players, needs to play a better game than they did Sunday.
Schroder explains offensive adjustments
Lakers guard Dennis Schroder also gave some insight into how the Lakers can improve offensively for Game 2 and the rest of the series. “Everybody’s just got to be ready to knock them down when you’re open. And we can still get fastbreak points, we had a couple of those where we passed to the corner or to the 45 to the open three.
“But if they’re not falling we have to still put pressure on the rim and try to score the easy layups, try to get a feel for it and then the threes are gonna fall. We know what we got to do, we missed 11 free throws as well, big key, myself, I missed three. And we lost by nine so we’re still gonna adjust, watch film and then just be ready to go and give everything we have on Tuesday.”
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