The Los Angeles Lakers played three games last week and finished with two losses and one win. The lone victory was against the Minnesota Timberwolves in overtime on Friday night. The game was preceded by the unveiling of Shaquille O’Neal’s statue in front of STAPLES Center, so it was a nice way to the end the celebration. Jordan Clarkson finished with a career-high 35 points.
The two losses came at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers and the Portland Trail Blazers. The Lakers defense was nonexistent in the game against the Clippers. Chris Paul and company got every look they wanted and took advantage of it. It was quite the opposite during Sunday evening’s game against the Blazers as the Lakers offense struggled to get any rhythm. They only shot 39.3 percent from the field and allowed Portland to grab 61 rebounds.
Here’s what is trending up and trending down with the Lakers this week.
Even though he did not play particularly well in two of the games last week, he managed to finish with a career-high 35 points last Friday that included eight made three-pointers. He has been a solid presence in the starting lineup, which has helped take some of the offensive pressure off of D’Angelo Russell. With the Lakers in tank mode, he has become a bright spot. As the season comes to a close, it would be beneficial for him to play the way he has so that he can enter the offseason with some confidence.
Russell has also continued to play well. In the three games last week he finished each one in double digits, including a 22-point outing on Sunday evening against the Blazers. While he still needs to improve his play as a facilitator, his scoring has been more depended on. With only a few games left in the season, it would be nice if he could show more of his playmaking ability. Hopefully, he can show that because it would be a great way to head into the offseason.
The Lakers defense has been atrocious for most of the season and this week was no different. Against the Clippers they allowed them to shoot 53.6 percent from the field, including 45.5 percent from three-point land. The Lakers will not win many games if they allow the opposition to get clean open looks every single time down the court. A major focus for the remainder of the season should be to have a better effort on the defensive end. The sooner the Lakers become a better defensive team, the faster they will become a playoff team.
The Lakers have struggled with consistency throughout the entire season. The play well for one game and struggle heavily in the next. The Lakers looked like two different teams this week. Against the Timberwolves they looked better than they have as many players made a positive impact in the game. The same cannot be said during the other two games. Against the Clippers and Blazers, the Lakers often looked like a team ready for the season to be over. The offense was not efficient, and the defense was a letdown. Hopefully, the Lakers can take the lessons learned this season and use them to be better in the future.