For the second consecutive game, Luke Walton watched the Los Angeles Lakers lead by double digits but barely escape with a win. After surviving against the Dallas Mavericks, the Lakers hung on to escape with a 114-110 victory against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Unlike the one-point win over the Dallas Mavericks, there was public pressure Saturday night with reports of Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson admonishing Walton for the team’s lack of an offensive system through seven games.
While the Lakers have lost all five games by nine points or less, there can be frustration with their inability to close out games. For Walton, he believes it is a process that will eventually help the new-look team down the road, as seen on Spectrum SportsNet:
“Everything gets magnified in the fourth. The things that we’re working on, making plays, trusting the play, trusting the next guy will make the right play as well is something that is part of this journey we’re on with a new group of guys.
“Playing young guys, playing vets that aren’t used to playing with those guys, so that’s all part of it. It does make the fourth quarters more difficult, but it also makes the learning curve a lot higher when we can figure our way through it and find ways to win.”
While it is unclear if the Lakers share the same level of patience, Walton has shown an improvement with his lineups in the last two games.
As the Brandon Ingram and Rajon Rondo suspensions delayed this process, Walton is establishing consistency now and it should improve their chances of winning games.
With the Lakers being one of the best teams offensively, the focus remains rebounding and defending without fouling.