The Los Angeles Lakers snapped a five-game winning streak after blowing a big fourth quarter lead to the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday. While there were a number of contributing factors to their loss, like the poor officiating, a lot of the blame was put on Isaiah Thomas and for good reason.
Down three with less than 10 seconds on the clock, the Lakers were in a good position to tie the game after the Blazers fouled on a dead ball. Then this happened.
Down 3, 7 seconds left, Isaiah Thomas misses free throw/gets stripped in final possession. Lakers lose. Wow. pic.twitter.com/9GWrmhsD9L— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) March 6, 2018
Thomas finished with 19 points on a lowly 1-of-9 shooting from the field and a game-low -17 box plus-minus. Safe to say it’s a night he wants to forget.
Head coach Luke Walton backed his new point guard after his rough shooting night, saying he’s been good for the team despite his struggles on the floor.
“It’s a working progress,” Walton said via Ryan Ward of ClutchPoints. “He’s been great. It’s one of those things that he’s been out there leading on the floor. Talking to guys about where to be positioning. Hasn’t complained at all.
“He’s been an unbelievable teammate to these guys. Very professional, so far,” he added.
Walton said he plans on working alongside Thomas and the coaching staff to see how they can get the most out of him.
“I spent time talking with him today as far as what he sees what we can do as a coaching staff to get him cleaner looks or plays maybe he’s run with other teams now that he sees how we play and how we can manipulate that to his advantage,” Walton said.
Walton has had some success working with players looking to return to form. Last season, when Nick Young looked like he was on the verge of falling out of the league, Walton gave him every chance to succeed and Young took full advantage of the opportunity, shooting 40.4 percent from the behind the arc on a career-high 7 attempts per game.
He’s now expected to make his first NBA Finals appearance of his 10-year career.
Walton will continue to turn to Thomas in late game situation as Thomas works his way back to being Mr. Fourth Quarter again.
“We have all the confidence in the world that he’s going to make those shots. Most nights he will. He’s proven he’s one of those players that the fourth quarter, the bigger the game gets, the more pressure, that’s when he plays his best.”
All quotes were transcribed via Ryan Ward of ClutchPoints.