In one of the more hilarious and frustrating endings to a Lakers game in recent memory, the Lakers improbably lost to the Pacers at the buzzer on Monday at the hands of an Andrew Nembhard 3-pointer. It came despite the Lakers controlling the game nearly throughout and holding a 17-point fourth-quarter lead before collapsing down the stretch.
A whole host of things went wrong for the Lakers to lose. After going up 101-84, the offense managed just 14 points the remainder of the game while the defense gave up 32 points and six 3-pointers.
Following the game, Darvin Ham took the blame for things going wrong, particularly offensively, leading to the inexplicable loss.
“I think us not taking advantage in terms of continuing to play downhill, play with force, continue to move the ball,” Ham said, via Spectrum. “It’s just one of those things when you get a lead like that, the free throw line allows you to maintain your lead. I wish we would have been a lot more aggressive, continue playing with pace and also continue to be organized and move the ball. And that falls on me. That falls on me. I’ll take responsibility for that...I have to do a better job of keeping us organized during those stretches offensively.”
A number of Ham’s points were backed up by the stats of those final 9:26 of the contest. The Lakers made just four trips to the free throw line, making two of them, over the final three-quarters of the game after attempting 27 and making 22 of them up to that point in the game.
While Ham can take fault for not being organized and moving the ball, there are way too many years of experience on the court between Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis to not understand what to do in that situation. To his credit, AD acknowledged that after the game.
Anthony Davis said the Lakers blown lead was not on Ham, and the Lakers have enough experience and "smart minds" to finish the game out. He lamented the Lakers' lack of effort down the stretch, particularly on the glass. https://t.co/6WZHsdIuhf— Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA) November 29, 2022
LeBron played the entirety of that span and went to the line zero times while AD’s 1-2 performance at the charity stripe mirrored his performance from the field as well, the return of a problem that has plagued him and the Lakers all year. Russ and LeBron were hardly better shooting the ball, going a combined 4-12 to end the game.
While it’s commendable and probably the right call for Ham to take responsibility here, you don’t blow a lead like that because of only one thing. Monday was a team-wide failure.