The Los Angeles Lakers fought hard, but the team couldn’t overcome their own mistakes in a 118-109 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. There were turnovers (11), poor three-point shooting (32.3 percent), and poor defense (the Lakers allowed Portland to shoot 53.1 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from three).
But all of those issues stemmed from somewhere, and Lakers head coach Luke Walton shared his theory with the media following the loss.
“Honestly, I didn’t feel like we had our legs,” Walton said on Spectrum Sportsnet. “Not sure why. It felt like we came out and the first couple plays we ran, we weren’t cutting hard, we weren’t pushing the ball up into the spots we wanted the ball in. That’s not okay.”
The Lakers’ offense collapsed in the third quarter, shooting just 38.1 percent from the field while being outscored 31-22 by the Blazers.
D’Angelo Russell went 1-2 in the third but, like the rest of the Lakers, he struggled with his shot for most of the night. The second-year guard finished with 22 points on 18 shots while missing all eight of his three-pointers.
Despite his struggles, Russell didn’t quite agree with his coach’s assessment of the Lakers’ problems (as transcribed via Spectrum Sportsnet, with a reporter’s questions in bold):
Luke said he thought you guys didn’t have your legs to start the third quarter, did you see that?
Russell: “Not all of us. We didn’t all have our legs. I feel like some of us did, but not all of us.”
Did you feel like you did?
Russell: “It’s not all of us.”
However many of the Lakers’ players did or didn’t have their legs, Walton thought they had fixed the problem by the end of the game.
“We had a mass sub and tried to regroup from there, and I thought the guys did a good job of gathering themselves and when they got back in playing well,” Walton said.
How much better the Lakers got is up for debate. Portland shot 62.5 percent in the final period while the Lakers managed just 35 percent, mostly due to them launching ten three-pointers and managing to sink just one.
Still, the Lakers were in the game with the Blazers nearly the whole way, improvement for a team that has completely wilted in second halves over the prior few weeks. And now that the Lakers are finally approaching a more favorable stretch of their schedule (five of their next seven games are at home, with one of the “road” dates being against the LA Clippers), maybe they can finally get their legs under them more permanently.
All stats per NBA.com. and Basketball-Reference.com. All quotes transcribed via Spectrum Sportsnet. Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.