The Los Angeles Lakers fell flat in the last minutes of the clash against to the New Orleans Pelicans, losing a key game in the race for Play-In Tournament qualification.
L.A. scored just 11 points in the last six minutes of the clash, shooting 30% from the field. The Lakers missed four free throws and a few layups during that stretch — while having at least a couple of questionable calls go against them.
Then, LeBron James missed a three on the last play of the night, sealing the Lakers’ fate. James thought poor execution down the stretch cost L.A. dearly on Friday.
“I believe we got some really good looks,” said the 37-year-old, who scored just two points in the fourth quarter after racking up 36 in the previous 36 minutes.
“Offensively, some of our sets, we didn’t get into our sets a lot quicker to be able to execute down the stretch. But we missed some really good looks. Obviously, Russ had a good path to the lane, kind of got shoved a little by Valanciunas on the layup, missed that.
“We had a two-on-one break, we believe that was a foul on the alley-oop from Malik. He had two great looks as well, I had a great look at the end that fell a little short. And they made some tough ones. CJ going across the lane up against AD, BI off-balanced against me going left as well. They made shots and we didn’t.”
The Lakers led for the majority of the second half, only to see the Pelicans run away with a win again — just like in the previous meeting with New Orleans last Sunday. After missing out on another win by a fine margin, James said it feels like L.A. has had lots of bad luck in 50/50 situation throughout 2021-22.
“Yeah, for sure. It just feels like we can’t catch a break,” the four-time NBA champions said.
“No matter what’s going on on the floor, it just feels like the ball bounces the other way, the ball doesn’t always bounce in our favor. AD played as great of defense as he could on Valanciunas on the jump hook, we felt like he just stood there arms up and Valanciunas’ off arm went into AD and then I drive the lane and BI pokes me in the eye, no call right after that happened.
“It’s just like when it rains it pours for our year and that’s just the way it’s been going.”
Frank Vogel thinks ‘disjointed nature’ of 2021-22 season played a role in Lakers’ defeat against Pelicans
Head coach Frank Vogel said the volatility of the 2021-22 season might have caused some of L.A.’s errors in the loss to New Orleans.
“I just think it’s the nature of the disjointed season that we’ve had,” the head coach said. “These guys haven’t been on the floor in six weeks together and played last night, tough travel situation getting in late and having to come in and play an important game today, just fell short.
“But those are little things that are the difference between winning and losing, turning the basketball over, committing to getting great shots every time down, the defensive execution of our schemes, and our coverages.
Vogel also praised the Pelicans for a great performance against the Purple and Gold, emphasizing the efficiency of their offense.
“Credit the Pelicans, they played a great game, they knocked down all their free throws, they won the free throw game tonight and those two guys made big shots down the stretch and honestly throughout the night.
“CJ and Brandon made a number of well-guarded pull-up jump shots, which as a coach if you have to give something up, you want to give those up. But credit to those guys for making big shots.”
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