Another game, another big halftime lead blown by the Los Angeles Lakers. On Thursday night the Miami HEAT were the benefactors of the purple and gold’s second half collapse, but they have been gifting their opponents games following halftime for the last several weeks.
"I don’t know honestly,” Lakers guard Lou Williams told the media following their latest loss (as transcribed by Serena Winters of Lakers Nation). “I don’t know. I wish I had the answer for you.”
Whatever the reason, late losses have been a theme for the Lakers over their recent 1-11 slide. The Lakers have the worst defensive efficiency in the NBA over that stretch (giving up 114.8 points per 100 possessions over their last 12 games), and things get even worse in second halves.
Over the final 24 minutes of their last 12 games, the Lakers’ defense is being ripped to shreds for 116 points per 100 possessions, trailing only the Phoenix Suns for the worst mark in the league.
Making matters worse is the team’s offense regressing to the level of a bunch of blindfolded college benchwarmers in the final two quarters, scoring a league-worst 92.2 points per 100 possessions over their last 12 games. The Lakers turn the ball over 18.8 percent of the time during those stretches while posting a true-shooting percentage of 49.2 percent. Both are the second-worst rates in the league under those qualifiers.
TL;DR: The Lakers’ terrible defense gets slightly worse in second halves while their offense takes a nosedive. Those are the main reasons why the Lakers have lost an NBA-worst 11 of their last 12 games while being outscored by a similarly league-worst 23.8 points per 100 possessions in the second halves of those games.
The unrepentant struggles have left various members of the team at a loss for solutions:
Thomas Robinson after tonight’s LAL loss: “Man, same old story.” Same issue of not playing a full 48, being lackadaisical on D.— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) December 23, 2016
.@LAIreland asks Lou where he hopes team mindset is at tom. night:— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) December 23, 2016
"Hope its not half way back to LA. I would appreciate that.”
What do the Lakers need to do differently?— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) December 23, 2016
Lou: "Just play 4 quarters, we can start there.”
Luke Walton says maybe if they start throwing the first half they'll have more fight in the second half. #sarcasmfont— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) December 23, 2016
— Lou Williams (@TeamLou23) December 23, 2016
So can the Lakers fix their problems? Maybe. Some better health would certainly help (the Lakers were missing both of their main power forwards, Julius Randle and Larry Nance, Jr., on Thursday), as would the confines of home after playing the majority of their games on the road during this stretch.
Walton is still confident his team will figure things out (per Mark Medina of the O.C. Register):
“I told the guys we’ll get there,” Walton said. “I don’t know when it’s going to be. But we’re playing good basketball. We’re not doing the little things that make you win ball games.”
The Lakers are struggling with both the big and the little things right now. Their explosive first halves in their last two losses show their promise, but their collapses in the second half have served as a reminder of how inexperienced this team still is. A lot of these problems can only be truly remedied with time. Due to the youth of their roster, the Lakers at least have plenty of that.
All stats per NBA.com. Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.