The Los Angeles Lakers suffer a setback every time they appear to be kicking into high gear — a common theme during the first month of the 2021-22 season.
Precisely that happened in the 121-103 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Monday. Coming off a solid win against the San Antonio Spurs the night before, L.A. never stood up to the raging Bulls and suffered another disenchanting defeat.
While three of Chicago’s starters scored 26 points or more, the Lakers shot a terrible 45.6% from the field and 18.8% from beyond the arc, falling to as much as 28 points behind in the fourth quarter.
L.A.’s offense seemed stale yet again this season — and Anthony Davis’ third-quarter ejection rendered the hosts even more toothless. Asked about the Lakers’ pace on the offensive end, Russell Westbrook said the team is yet to take full advantage of the roster’s athleticism and speed this season — partly because of their sloppy defense.
“It’s still not there,” he said. “The pace is hard when you keep taking the ball out of bounds. You can push a lot of times, but playing against a set defense is not always the ideal situation you want to be in. We got to get there. We got to run the floor, kick the ball ahead, make easy reads.”
Despite the lingering flaws in their offense, the Lakers still rank second in pace (102.6) this season, giving way only to the Houston Rockets.
While L.A. struggled to make the ball fall in, the Bulls stayed sharp on the offensive end throughout the night and shot 44.1% from downtown. Their fine performance earned praise from Westbrook.
“They were making some tough shots,” the 33-year-old said. “They shot the ball well. We had a scheme where we, had in place that, we were trying to do the best of our ability to make shots.”
Westbrook: Upcoming road trip can nurture togetherness among Lakers
The Lakers are still grappling with chemistry issues, which appear all the more difficult to solve due to the early season injury crisis.
L.A. is now leaving for a five-game road trip, starting with a mouth-watering matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday. Having played 12 of their first 15 games at Staples Center, Westbrook thinks the Lakers can benefit from spending some time away from home.
“It creates more togetherness, cohesiveness, and finding ways to lean on each other,” he said.
“You know when you go on the road you go against a home crowd, so you have no choice but to lean on each other. If you don’t, you don’t have a chance to win.”
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