There was such a drastic difference between the first and second half for the Lakers on Friday night against the Washington Wizards. In the first half, the Lakers showcased their recent improvement as a team by working from the inside-out and doing a fantastic job at sharing the ball. They played solid defense in the first 24 minutes as well.
The Lakers surged to an 18-point lead and instead of continuing with their game plan that proved successful in the first half, the reverted back to old habits. The offense became stagnate as they stopped moving the ball and let too many plays go into Kobe-isos. Players stopped moving off the ball on the offensive end. On the defensive side, the Lakers let the Wizards’ John Wall penetrate to the basket and allowed Trevor Ariza catch fire at the three-point line.
After the frustrating loss, Mike D’Antoni couldn’t conceal his anger over the fact that the Lakers yet again gave a game away, which was the sentiment every Lakers fan was feeling. According to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLA, D’Antoni expressed his frustration by sharing the following in his post-game conference:
“That ball will roll around and go in for [the opponent] and it will roll around and go out for us because we’re messing with the game. If we don’t change that, obviously we won’t make the playoffs, but if we do, we’ll get blown out in the playoffs. You can’t be a fairly good team or even a good team without passing the basketball, without understanding what we’re doing defensively and honing in and doing it. You can’t do it. You can’t do it. It’s impossible.”
“You can’t mess with a game as you can’t mess with a season as you can’t mess with a schedule. You got to go out, you got to beat Phoenix, you got to beat Atlanta, you got to beat these teams. You got to come ready to play. We don’t all the time, and we might come ready, but by halftime it might be gone. Or we might come out at halftime and be OK, and then the fourth quarter it’s gone. Somewhere somebody is going to have to say, ‘Enough is enough and let’s play.’ Every possession. But no. We don’t. We don’t.”
Too often this season, we have seen the Lakers either blow big leads or decide not to play until late in the game. Things should be clicking for the Lakers at this point of the season, injuries or not. The team is still figuring out a way to consistently play to their game plan for all 48 minutes of a game.
This is worrisome considering that the team is still not a lock for the playoffs. The Lakers caught a bit of a break since Utah lost as well on Friday night to stay 1.5 games behind L.A. for the eight seed. However, the Lakers cannot revert back to the old habits going forward or they will be in trouble. The Lakers now start a four game road trip on Monday at Golden State.