The Los Angeles Lakers suffered yet another disappointing loss on Friday night — their third in a row — as the Charlotte Hornets exposed a weak defense and scored 134 points. Not only was it L.A’s third straight loss, but it was also their third consecutive game giving up 130 or more points.
LeBron James is averaging 32.5 points and 9.5 assists in their last two games, losses to the Hornets and Sacramento Kings, but it has not been enough to overcome simple mistakes throughout the roster. Losing Anthony Davis to a stress injury in his foot has given the Lakers an impossibly slim margin for error.
When discussing the loss to the Hornets specifically, James — who helped lead a furious fourth-quarter comeback — focused on carelessness with the ball and an inability to defend in transition. “It wasn’t just down the stretch, it’s the whole game,” James said. “We had 17 turnovers and gave up 32 points off that, they had 29 points on the break.
“So we’re OK with some of our attack turnovers, but some of our unforced, careless turnovers are resulting in easy fastbreak points. We’re not matching up in transition, we’re not putting bodies on bodies for rebounds and things of that nature. Self-inflicted wounds that we just don’t have a lot of room for error. We have to be able to control the things that we can control.”
James also spoke about the fickle nature of leads and deficits with this Lakers team, as they’ve mounted several big comebacks but also blown several large leads. L.A. trailed by as many as 16 and as many as 11 in the fourth quarter. “At the end of the day, the game is not over until it hits zeroes in the fourth. So getting down 16, up 16, whatever the case may be, you still got to keep playing and maintain focus one possession at a time.
“That’s what we did in the third when we got down 16 and then we made a substitution and guys came in and gave us a rally. Just played some good basketball, and when we got back in we just tried to keep it going. But we had chances.”
However, James denied any thought that the team’s current three-game losing streak might have an effect on their upcoming road trip.
“We’ll wait until the trip starts. We obviously had our chances tonight and I don’t want to say disappointing because I’m not disappointed in our effort, you just want to be able to win the game when it’s right there for you. The trip begins tomorrow when we start preparing for Dallas on Sunday and then we go from there.”
The Lakers are slowly running out of time to salvage their season, and losing winnable games like Friday night is a huge setback on a team desperately trying to stay afloat. L.A. must now turn the page as they prepare for a primetime battle with Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks.
Then they face the Orlando Magic, Miami Heat, Atlanta Hawks and Hornets once again to close out the road trip. Winning 3-4 of those games could set the Lakers back up on the right path.
Darvin Ham unhappy with self-inflicted wounds
James was not the only Laker to lament the issues the team has caused for itself. Head coach Darvin Ham also expressed frustration with the team not controlling what they can control and allowing teams to beat them.
It’s only a matter of time before the Lakers’ self-inflicted wounds put an end to their season.
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