LOS ANGELES — To pin the Christmas Day loss the Lakers just suffered at hands of the Clippers on one play would be a mistake. In a game that ended with a 17-5 run, a lot of miscues led the purple and gold to a 111-106 defeat.
But the game was even closer than that, with the Lakers having a chance to tie it up and send things to overtime with just seconds remaining when Patrick Beverley poked the ball away from LeBron James, resulting in a turnover for the Lakers upon replay review. And the Lakers may not have needed that play so desperately had Anthony Davis not fouled Lou Williams on a breakaway layup it appeared Williams was going to miss anyway earlier in crunch time.
However, according to Danny Green, the cause of the loss wasn’t either of those plays.
“Danny Green has to not foul. At the end of the game it’s that simple,” Green said.
Things may not actually be that simple, but Green’s two late fouls on Kawhi Leonard did send the Clippers star to the free-throw line, and undoubtedly hurt the Lakers. And his issues with foul trouble are something Green has been on himself about for most of the season.
“A lot of matchups for me this season have been a struggle, foul trouble-wise. I’ve got to do a better job of helping my team by not fouling and staying out of foul trouble,” Green said on Spectrum SportsNet exactly a month ago. The difference then was that the Lakers were on a run that would ultimately result in a 24-3 start, but the Lakers (24-7) have lost four games in a row since then, which may be exactly what allows them to correct the mistakes they knew about while they were winning.
“Losing games allows us to learn better, quicker. We know we’re better than this. We know what we can be. Sometimes you need a wake-up call. You don’t need four of them,” Green said, frustration with himself creeping through, “but we have to continue to figure it out.”
Part of figuring it out will mean one of the Lakers’ best perimeter defenders — who, to be clear, has been mostly good this season — not picking up fouls on key late defensive possessions. He’s aware, and he’s ready to fix it.
”I have to smart down the stretch, knowing how they’re calling the game and not being (overly aggressive) on the defensive end of the floor,” Green said. “We’ve got to be smarter, we can’t put them on the free-throw line.”
When the Lakers stop doing so, they’ll be even better than they already are. At least they’re aware of the issue, and might finally have encountered the requisite amount of adversity to fix it.
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.