May 18, 2012. That’s the date the Los Angeles Lakers won their last playoff game. It was a 99-96 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Kobe Bryant led all scorers with 36 points, followed by Kevin Durant, who scored 31 points. The team was hoping to end that eight-year streak of futility on Tuesday, but they came up short against the Trail Blazers.
The loss was no one’s fault but their own, and they know it.
“Everything that we did to lose tonight was on us,” Anthony Davis said after the game. “It was self-inflicted.”
They’ll have an opportunity to bounce back and even the series on Thursday, and Frank Vogel is confident they’ll be able to do just that in spite of how his team has looked as of late.
“We’re optimistic,” Vogel said at practice on Wednesday. “We know there are things that we can do better, but we’re very encouraged. The thing I’m most encouraged about is that we have a super talented team, and when you have a super talented team that plays like a scrappy underdog, you have a chance to really accomplish something special.
“We scratched and clawed, we played extremely hard on both ends of the floor last night. I was very pleased with that part of it, and I was even pleased with the shots they we were able to generate within our offense. I’m optimistic about what we can accomplish in this series.”
The problem is that the Lakers haven’t shown us anything to suggest Vogel’s optimism isn’t misplaced — at least not in Orlando. In their seeding games, the Lakers posted an offensive rating of 104.5, which was the third-worst efficiency of any of the 22 teams that competed for a playoff spot.
The hope was that they’d “flip the switch” in the playoffs and score more points as a result of them just playing harder, but that wasn’t the case on Tuesday, when they scored just 93 points on 35.1% shooting from the field, including 15.6% shooting from behind the arc, which is the third time this month they’ve made less than 16% of their threes.
Whatever the Lakers had before the season was suspended, they clearly don’t have it anymore right now. The question is: do they have enough fight in them to weather the storm until they rediscover it? If they do, do they have the right head coach to put them in a position to succeed?
We’re about to find out. Tip-off for Game 2 against the Blazers is at 6 p.m. on ESPN nationally, and Spectrum SportsNet locally.
Notes and updates
- Rajon Rondo (right thumb surgery) has been listed as questionable for Game 2. At practice on Wednesday, Frank Vogel said there’s “50/50” chance that Rondo plays. Anthony Davis (sore right knee) LeBron James (sore right groin) are probable.
- While Vogel is open to the idea of changing the starting lineup, he said he was committed to the starting five of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Danny Green, LeBron James, Anthony Davis and JaVale McGee at practice. The starting lineup posted a net rating of -39.4 on Tuesday and posted a net rating of -30.1 in the seeding games.
- Blazers big man Zach Collins — who missed Game 1 — will be out for the next 2-4 games with a stress reaction injury in his left ankle.