The Los Angeles Lakers played perhaps their best basketball in quite some time, putting together a stellar effort through 3.5 quarters, only to collapse late against the Milwaukee Bucks in a 131-120 loss.
Despite 62 combined points from LeBron James and Brandon Ingram, the team’s defense could not contain Eric Bledsoe, who finished with 31 points and nine assists.
With the L.A. Clippers defeating the Sacramento Kings, the San Antonio Spurs are now the eighth in the Western Conference. As the Lakers are currently 3.5 games behind the Spurs, there are only 20 games remaining in the season.
“We’re aware of it. We don’t try to harp on it too much,” Lakers head coach Luke Walton said of time beginning to run short on his team.
“I say all the time, the way we’re going to be at our best is if we stay present and keep our mindset on what we’re doing in practice, games and day-by-day. That’s how we’ll get to where we want to get to. The group is very away of where we’re at and what needs to happen.”
Since 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend, the Lakers have wasted multiple opportunities to close the gap in the standings. Along with embarrassing losses to the Anthony Davis-less New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies, they could not close out the Bucks despite having a double-digit lead.
At this stage of the season, it does not get any easier for the Lakers. After hosting the Denver Nuggets and Boston Celtics, they have a five-game road trip.
With the odds certainly not in their favor, Walton and the Lakers may have to go at least 15-5 during this final stretch to give themselves a legitimate chance of making the playoffs.
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