There were multiple reasons the Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves in one of their final games of the season Friday night, but Luke Walton, Josh Hart, and Julius Randle were all in agreement about the team’s biggest problem.
“We had lackadaisical passes,” Hart said. “I know I had two where I kind of just threw it. We’re young but we’ve got to realize each and every possession matters. That’s something we’ve got to learn. It’s something coach has talked to us about.”
It’s something that the Lakers haven’t learned 79 games into their season, or at the very least not been able to address. Los Angeles has averaged the second-highest turnovers per game in the league (15.8) and they turn the ball over on a higher percentage of their possessions (15.2 percent) than all but five teams.
Walton still credited the Timberwolves for forcing the issue, and was honest about his team dealing with a few issues that made it harder to clean up their act.
“They’re a good defensive team. They’re big, they’re strong, they’re physical. I felt like we gave in to fatigue a little bit,” Walton said. “Which is never OK, except for the fact, we’ve got guys on our team who have played in four straight games, Kuz goes down. Our guys are tired.
“The way they get after it defensively, if you’re not strong with the ball, then you’re not being the aggressor. It’s something we’re going to have to continue to work on. If we want to consistently be a good team, we’ve got to get our turnover numbers down.”
It’s probably too late for the Lakers to fix that problem this season, but one positive for the future is that the team is in lockstep that the way they’ve coughed up the ball needs to get fixed moving forward, and that they’re all on the same page about what is causing the problem.
“(We) just weren’t being physical, not being strong with the ball, all that type of stuff,” Randle said.
If the Lakers want to continue to improve next season, “all that type of stuff” is exactly what they’ll have to fix. In large part because of their turnover issues, they’ll have a whole offseason to do it.