The Los Angeles Lakers arrived at Vivint Smart Home Arena on Friday for their first road game of the season. Unfortunately for head coach Luke Walton, the Lakers experienced some growing pains in their 96-89 loss to the Utah Jazz.
The young core had a tough showing against the emerging Jazz team, which was playing without perhaps their best player, Gordon Hayward. The Lakers were in the game throughout the contest, but were unable to make that game-changing adjustment that would have led to the victory.
Guard D’Angelo Russell had the most lackluster game of them all, rendering highly inefficient against the pestering defense of opposing point guard George Hill. For the contest, he had nine points on 3-for-14 shooting. Although he did have five rebounds and five assists, he also had four turnovers.
The Lakers continue to get acclimated to Walton’s system, attempting to find fluidity in order to execute at a proficient level.
In a post game interview, Walton wanted the young team to take one thing away from this game, via Serena Winters of Lakers Nation:
Luke Walton hopes the teams takeaway from tonight is pretty simple: "That is sucks to lose, honestly.”
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) October 29, 2016
The Lakers had a 38.1 team field goal percentage, along with 17 turnovers. In a game that was winnable, Walton reiterated a frustration with the officiating in the game.
The 26th head coach in franchise history also stated some growing pains for this young team includes learning how to take games on the road. Walton did credit the Jazz though, saying they earned this victory.
Part of playing in the NBA involves rising to the occasion and capturing games which are heavily contested on both ends. The second unit was able to keep the game within a certain vicinity, as most bench players had a positive +/- rating for the contest (except Jordan Clarkson and Thomas Robinson).
Overall there were some positives for the Lakers to take away from the game, but Walton doesn’t want his young squad to focus on moral victories, he wants them to do what it takes to turn these into actual wins.
Russell, Walton and the Lakers now prepare for their Sunday showdown on the road against Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder.