The Lakers faced off with the Knicks in LA's third game in the Las Vegas Summer League, pitting 2nd overall pick D'Angelo Russell against 4th pick Kristaps Pozingis. The first two games were a mixed bag for the Lakers, with occasional spurts of brilliance breaking up mostly lackluster play.
The team really needed to click in game 3 and show that they are making progress, but unfortunately, the opposite occurred. The game was an ugly affair from beginning to end, with the offense in particular looking like it had somehow regressed from game 1.
Turnovers were a major problem once again, with the Lakers offense coughing the ball up time and time again and giving the Knicks easy baskets in transition. To compound things the purple and gold struggled to find the bottom of the net, shooting so poorly that Rajon Rondo looks like a dead eye by comparison.
The defense struggled in a similar fashion, with missed rotations and poor transition play giving the Knicks a 19-5 lead coming out of the first quarter. You read that right, the Lakers scored all of 5 points in the quarter.
The second quarter saw a bit of a comeback thanks to solid play from a returning Jabari Brown and the Lakers managed to close the gap to just 5 by halftime. Much to the dismay of Lakers fans D'Angelo Russell continued to struggle with 4 turnovers and last year's 7th pick, Julius Randle, looked completely out of sorts.
The Lakers came out for the second half with renewed commitment on the defensive end but their offense continued to sputter. Russell got things going a little bit with a few nice passes and a beautiful step-back jumper, showing that while the learning curve will be steep his talent is undeniable.
While the Lakers did show some fight in the second half but they just couldn't play together enough to put themselves in a position to win, ultimately losing 76-66. Summer League is all about playing through growing pains but it does seem as though this Los Angeles squad is experiencing more than their fair share of them.
For the game the Lakers shot just 32% and committed a whopping 20 turnovers. Russell had the ugliest stat line of his young career with just 8 points and 1 assist to go along with 8 turnovers, but the entire team was out of sync for most of the night.
Lakers fans should keep in mind that summer league success or failure doesn't necessarily translate to the regular season, and some players take longer to adjust to the NBA game than others do. Still, with how promising this year's Summer League team looks on paper, the results thus far have been underwhelming.
Let's hope that Coach Mark Madsen can find a way to open up the offense and get his young talent going in their next outing.
Follow Trevor Lane on Twitter @16ringsNBA