The Los Angeles Lakers put together what was almost inarguably their best quarter of the season in the third frame against the Washington Wizards. The team shot an eye-melting 93.8 percent from the field in the third while making their final 15 shots in the period, leaving a trail of hapless Wizards defenders in their wake.
It was an offensive display almost anyone would be thrilled with. Well, anyone except the Lakers, that is. The Lakers went on to fall 119-108 as the Wizards put together a 37-13 run to close the game, leaving a bitter taste in the Lakers mouths.
“We had a good third quarter,” said Jordan Clarkson, who went a perfect 6-6 in the third quarter to rack up 14 of his 22 points. “We just have to find a way to score the ball at the end.”
D’Angelo Russell had as impressive of a game as any of the Lakers, making his one shot in the third and finishing the night with 28 points, nine assists and six rebounds, but like Clarkson, he wasn’t going to preen after a clutch collapse.
"Honestly I felt like we got the same shots, we just started making them."- Russell on @SpectrumSN on the Lakers' big third quarter— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) March 29, 2017
"Nope. We lost. Honestly it doesn't really matter."- Russell on whether he was happy with big games from himself and JC (via @SpectrumSN)— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) March 29, 2017
"We were making shots, we were getting stops, and then we stopped making shots and getting stops."- Russell on why the Lakers lost.— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) March 29, 2017
As for his own big night, Russell downplayed that as well.
"i was making shots, that made it easier. My teammates were in the right positions for me to make plays," Russell said.
One of the primary dangers of rebuilding/tanking/whatever one wants to call it is developing a culture where players become numb to the wins and losses.
There is certainly a possibility Russell and Randle could just be trying to say the right things, but their frustration with their effort not translating into wins appeared genuine.
While that might make things harder for them in the present, it’s a positive sign for the Lakers future that these players don’t seem to be caught up in their individual performances. They just want to start seeing their hot quarters coalesce into hot games once the team begins to put everything together on a night to night basis.
"It doesn't really matter [what we did in the third], we lost,” Lakers forward Julius Randle said on Spectrum Sportsnet following the defeat. “Personally I don't care.”
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.