Russell Westbrook & Talen Horton-Tucker Don’t Know What Causes Lakers’ Early-Game Woes
(Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)

First-quarter woes keep haunting the Los Angeles Lakers, who have lost the last two games after digging themselves into a hole early in the night.

L.A. scored 12 points in the opening period — recording its worst first-quarter tally of the season — against the Toronto Raptors on Monday, leading to a 114-103 defeat. The Lakers came out ice cold on offense in back-to-back games, as in Sunday’s 140-111 loss to the Phoenix Suns, they went into the second quarter facing a 26-point deficit.

Since the beginning of February, no other NBA team has averaged fewer points in the opening 12 minutes of games than the Purple and Gold’s 25.2. L.A. has been outscored by league-high 4.8 points per night during that stretch.

And it appears the Lakers don’t know what’s causing their early-game problems.

“I’m not sure. I don’t have an answer for you on that one,” said Russell Westbrook when asked about the huge first-quarter deficits the team had to face over the last two games.

Talen Horton-Tucker offered a similar response to the same question.

“I really don’t know,” Horton-Tucker said.

LeBron James acknowledged the problem after the loss against the Suns, adding even Anthony Davis’ return might not immediately fix things for the Lakers.

“It puts a band-aid on some things but we just haven’t had enough chemistry, enough time with our group to be able to know exactly who we are and what we could become, haven’t had enough minutes on the floor,” James said.

Frank Vogel discusses Lakers’ slow starts

Following the loss to the Raptors, head coach Frank Vogel said the Lakers not only failed to capitalize on the good looks they created early on, but took too much time to figure out how to counter Toronto’s defense in general.

“Like any case, you can show them the pressure that they play with all you want on film,” Vogel explained.

“It takes a little time to actually get it and feel it and get used to it. You want to be able to hit the ground running, but it’s a unique defensive style that you’re going against. It speed us up some and what they want is they want to pressure, they want to speed you up and they want to force you into tough decisions. I think we had a few possessions like that and a few possessions where we moved the ball and got great looks and missed.

“Second game in a row we just came out shooting the ball really ice cold and it put us behind the eight ball.”

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