There is obviously larger context to why the Lakers blew another lead against the Oklahoma City Thunder last night beyond “not having LeBron James” and “Anthony Davis being hurt in the second half.” But you’ll have to excuse the team if they aren’t trying to hear about those excuses. They’re clearly embarrassed and annoyed that they dropped another winnable game against a team widely expected to be one of the worst not just in the league, but potentially in NBA history.
“We’ve still got to play basketball,” Davis said of James’ absence. “He’s a big key to our team, but we’ve still got to play. I don’t know how long he’s going to be out, but we’ve still got to find ways to win basketball games.”
His veteran teammate, Carmelo Anthony, mostly agreed with that assessment.
“It ain’t come down to LeBron not being here. We let this one go again. We shouldn’t have lost this one,” Anthony said.
The bottom line is that both are obviously right. This Lakers team may be playing a skeleton crew at this point, and Davis may have looked like a shell of himself after returning from his right thumb sprain in the third quarter, but the Lakers still had multiple chances to put this one away, and just couldn’t do it. Regardless of the fact that they’re missing basically one third or more of their expected preseason rotation, they should have still had enough to get this done, especially when considering they once led by 19.
Davis, openly frustrated, not only appeared to send what was at-best not a great compliment to Frank Vogel, and at worst a pretty open subtweet of his head coach...
Anthony Davis says it was as if the Thunder were anticipating their coverages: "They knew what we were doing the entire second half. Their coach or Shai or whoever it was made an adjustment to put their players in the right spot."— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) November 5, 2021
... but also didn’t want to hear any excuses for the Lakers blowing this one.
“We can’t control (LeBron) playing or not, but what we can control is going out there and winning basketball games,” Davis said. “With the guys that we have, we have enough pieces to still win basketball games, even though he brings a huge part to both ends of the floor of what we do.
“It’s an adjustment period of trying to figure out new schemes and stuff like that without him, for however long he’s out,” Davis continued. “But like I said, we still have enough pieces to win basketball games.”
Anthony, on the other hand, was willing to offer some larger context for the team’s struggles.
“We’re still a work in progress,” Anthony said. “But any time you’re missing a guy like LeBron you still have to make those adjustments. Guys have to do things that maybe they’re not called upon to do when we have a guy like LeBron out there.”
Still, like Davis, he wasn’t willing to excuse those issues.
“But,” Anthony added, “we shouldn’t have lost this one.”