The Lakers lost to the Clippers 103-97 in their home opener to start the season off 0-2 once again.
The Lakers started the game with back-to-back threes from Lonnie Walker IV and LeBron James. Patrick Beverly was engaged and effective, blocking a Paul George jumper while Kawhi Leonard watched from the bench, already on a minutes restriction. After that, things went downhill quickly. Starting 2-of-2 from three, the Lakers ended the first quarter 3-of-13 from beyond the arc. John Wall was literally perfect coming off the bench, going 4-of-4 and dropping 8 points. After one, the Lakers trailed 35-23 despite LeBron James and Anthony Davis playing nine minutes in the quarter.
The second quarter was a series of runs. The Clippers went on an 11-0 run midway through the second quarter, and when Kawhi entered at the 6:25 mark, he got back-to-back buckets with ease against Juan Toscano-Anderson. The game looked as though it was slipping away, with the Lakers down by as many as 16, but they responded with an incredible 20-4 run to end the second quarter tied 56-56. The run was fueled by defensive turnovers and getting out and scoring in transition.
In the third quarter, the Lakers got their first Anthony Davis injury scare when he fell hard after jumping to contest a Leonard jumper at the 9:18 mark. AD managed to stay in the game more a few more minutes and even hit a three-pointer before finally getting subbed out and headed back to the locker room with a heating bad around his lower back.
With AD gone and LeBron getting subbed out, the Clippers went on a 17-0 run midway through the quarter and pulled away once again. Anthony Davis returned, as did LeBron, and they were able to keep the game within reach down by just eight heading into the fourth.
LAL trail 85-77 after 3 quarters.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) October 21, 2022
AD is a +8 tonight after making a pair of FT's.
Beverley missed an open corner 3 on LAL's final offensive trip that would have trimmed it further.
However, these are still the Los Angeles Clippers, and they gave the Lakers every opportunity to steal this game. Beverley was applying pressure and forcing turnovers, Toscano-Anderson was ending possessions with emphatic dunks, and Austin Reaves went coast to coast and ended with a beautiful mid-range jumper to give the Lakers an 89-87 lead with eight minutes left in the game.
Not a fake comeback from the Lakers tonight, but not enough to pull out the win as the trio of Luke Kennard, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George did just enough to pull away with the 103-97 victory.
Russ will get a lot of blame for his lack of offensive production tonight. He was abysmal on the offensive side of the ball with two points on 0-for-11 shooting. You need more from your highest-paid starting point guard.
The Lakers are a limited team. LeBron alluded to this after the season opener when he said, “we’re not a team constructed of great shooting… It’s not like we’re sitting here with a lot of lasers on our team.” To overcome these issues, the Lakers need role players like Kendrick Nunn, Reaves, and Walker to play above and beyond their usual production. Walker had a productive game, scoring 20 in his 31 minutes of play, but Nunn and no points, going 0-for-7 in his 11 minutes. Reaves had sparks of brilliance but was overall underwhelming, contributing only 4 points and 5 fouls in 20 minutes.
Rebounding is also an issue for the Lakers, given their size deficiencies. They were out-rebounded in every pre-season game and lost the rebounding battle 58-38 tonight. Poor three-point shooting, mediocre play from role players, and getting thoroughly out-rebounded are some of the many reasons this team has started 0-2.
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