The Los Angeles Lakers always seem to have trouble getting out of their own way, and that was certainly the case when they lost to the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday night.
It was another tale of two halves for the Lakers as they were able to dominate the game from the get-go, moving the ball on offense and making multiple efforts on defense to keep the Pelicans off balance and building a 20-point lead. However, Los Angeles looked like a much different team after halftime, lacking the same kind of pop and verve they showed earlier in the night.
The lack of energy and effort resembled the type of team they were a few weeks ago and Russell Westbrook admitted he had no idea why it came up again in such a crucial game.
“Honestly, I don’t have any answers for you,” Westbrook said. “I wish I did. No answer for you.”
As far as what went wrong from a basketball standpoint, Westbrook added that the Lakers as a whole stopped playing the right way.
“They weren’t doing anything special defensively. We could score if we want if we continued to play the right way, which I didn’t think we did in the second half for the most part.”
It was baffling to see Los Angeles move away from all the ball and man movement that helped them take a 20-point lead in the first half. Instead, the Lakers collectively settled for far less optimal looks and defensively allowed the Pelicans to manufacture the shots they wanted nearly every time down.
This was about as close to a must-win game the Purple and Gold have had because of the Play-In Tournament ramifications. The Lakers now sit tenth in the standings, and now trail the Pelicans by half a game for ninth. To make matters worse, the San Antonio Spurs only sit behind them by one game, meaning the odds of them falling out of the tournament entirely are against them.
Even though L.A. gets another crack at New Orleans later this week, the fact of the matter is they made things exponentially harder on themselves. Hopefully Westbrook and the team take this loss to the heart but do not get an easy chance to correct things when they head home to play the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday.
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