The Los Angeles Lakers have been a much-improved team this season and have taken major steps in their development. Down the stretch of the season, however, things have been rough and Luke Walton’s team had one of their worst performances of the year in their 84-83 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night.
Even though the team was without their three best playmakers in Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Isaiah Thomas, the Lakers had plenty of chances to come out with the victory, which is what was most frustrating.
“That’s a game we should win at home, when we hold the opponent to 84 points,” Walton said. “But we didn’t do a good enough job of taking it when we had our chance. We keep telling the guys if you leave it up to the end of a ballgame in the NBA, anything can happen.”
Walton was able to find some positive for his team, namely on the defensive end. “Even when nothing is going right for you offensively, you have a chance to win the game if you play good defense, so that was good to see,” he said.
Holding a team to 84 points should be cause for a victory, especially against an opponent like the Kings who are at the bottom of the league. The rough thing for the Lakers is that they don’t have games remaining against those kinds of teams, and Walton knows things could turn worse.
“We’re going to have to play a lot better for the remainder of the season,” he said. “We’ve got some really good teams coming that are playing for something pretty significant. We’re going to have to elevate our game a lot or it’s going to be a long six games to end the season.”
The Lakers’ final six games come against the Utah Jazz (twice), San Antonio Spurs, Minnesota Timberwolves, Houston Rockets and Clippers; all of whom are battling either for a playoff spot or positioning. Rookie forward Kyle Kuzma understands the challenge that lies ahead.
“We’ve just got to bring it. That’s the biggest thing. We’re playing all playoff teams and teams fighting for seeding,” Kuzma said. “They’re going to try to come in and pound us, so for us, we just have to fight back and bring our A game.”
Make no mistake, this season is still a huge success and the Lakers as a whole have developed in a big way. A sad end to the year would certainly damper the spirits on that, however, and Walton and the rest of the team are determined to not allow that to happen.
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