Monday night marked a lot of “firsts for the Los Angeles Lakers. For starters, it was their first time seeing their bitter rivals, the Boston Celtics, this season. Last season, the two teams split the season series, with the Lakers winning their last matchup on a thrilling buzzer-beat by Rajon Rondo.
Unfortunately, Monday’s contest wasn’t nearly as exciting, as the Celtics blew the Lakers out 139-107. It marked the first time the Lakers allowed an opponent to score more than 130 points. Their previous season-high for opponent points allowed was 128 points and, unsurprisingly, they lost that game too.
It was also the first time LeBron James had ever lost to Kemba Walker. Prior to Monday night’s game, Walker was 0-28 against James.
The final “first” isn’t one that can be calculated, and that’s the first time the Lakers looked defeated. Of course, the Lakers have lost this season — even though it may not feel like it at times — but they’ve showed fight in every one of those games. Even their 128-104 loss to the Denver Nuggets was competitive in the first half, and James wasn’t healthy for that game.
Following the game, Frank Vogel told reporters that he thought that his team would have done a lot better if everyone had just tried a little harder (via Spectrum SportsNet):
“That’s one of the most disappointing things for me because I feel like that’s a controllable thing: Boxing out and hitting people, and we didn’t really do it all in the first half. So, I’m very disappointed in that, but really from the total performance.”
Anthony Davis shared Vogel’s frustrations, and said that the Lakers will use Monday’s game as a learning experience:
“They were more physical. They basically did whatever they wanted the whole night and we didn’t respond. We can’t afford to do that, especially on the road, against a team like this — against any team. We got to make sure to come out and be the ones that’s aggressive: We’re hitting guys first, we’re rebounding the ball, we’re running. That’s when we’re at our best.”
LeBron James was a little less reflective in his postgame interview, saying that it was just one of those games that you throw away and move on from:
“Listen, it was just a good old-fashioned butt whooping, that’s all.”
Let’s hope that’s the case, as the Lakers have a back-to-back coming up on their schedule, starting on Wednesday against the New York Knicks. After that, they’ll get have another good test in the Philadelphia 76ers, who have won the last three games in spite of losing Joel Embiid to injury.
The Lakers have the size to compete with the equally big 76ers, but if they don’t maintain their competitive fire throughout their games, their strengths won’t matter, as evidenced by Monday’s loss.