Malik Monk has been an absolute revelation for the Los Angeles Lakers this season. The fifth-year guard has become one of the team’s most reliable offensive options, showing time and time again that he is capable of creating offense and getting scorching hot at any moment.
Monk had his first double-double of the season on Sunday, finishing with a season-high 33 points to go along with 10 rebounds and five assists. Unfortunately the Lakers were unable to close out the game down the stretch and wound up with a loss to the Atlanta Hawks to cap off their road trip.
It marked a third consecutive loss, which coincided with LeBron James missing each of those contests due to a left knee issue. It is obvious how much the Lakers need James to be successful, and Monk made it clear that the team misses what he brings.
“Yeah, y’all know exactly how it is, he’s just LeBron, man,” Monk said following the loss to Atlanta. “And like you said, he’s out there orchestrating everything for us. He’s missed. He’s missed tremendously, but that’s our job to figure out how to play without him because we’re not always gonna have him.
“We might be down somebody at all times, so you never know. But yeah, he’s missed tremendously.”
LeBron’s ability to get everyone in the right positions for success is missed at all times, but especially so down the stretch of close games. The Lakers had chances to finish out the Hawks but their failures in crunch time ultimately sealed their fate.
What LeBron has done this season has been truly phenomenal. He remains one of the best players in the entire NBA and continues to operate at a very high level, but he will need some help if the Lakers plan on making a run in the playoffs.
The return of Anthony Davis certainly provides a boost and Monk continuing to play as he has for most of the season gives the team another big piece to the puzzle. But in the end it is LeBron who brings everything together and the Lakers will greatly miss him whenever he is on the sideline.
Monk explains what went wrong late for Lakers vs. Hawks
Without James on the court, the Lakers failed to close out the Hawks and afterwards, Monk specifically explained what went wrong for the Lakers down the stretch.
“They just gave us a little bit more pressure and sped us up and we played into their hand,” he said. “That’s how they got the win, it got over us in the fourth and we just played into what they wanted us to do.”
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