The Lakers getting blown out on the road by good teams has become so predictable at this point that I chose to go get dinner with my parents last night instead of watching them get absolutely destroyed by the Phoenix Suns (they eventually lost by 32, justifying that decision). It was my day off, but usually I watch this team anyway just because of some combination of commitment to my work, a love of basketball, and probably a dash of completely unjustified optimism that maybe one day this group with more talent than they’ve shown will turn things around.
But this team hasn't shown a resilient bone in their body all season, and their most consistent trait has been their willingness to roll over when faced with even the slightest adversity. So when I took a break at dinner to check the score on my phone, I wasn’t really that surprised to see them nearly down by 30 after just one quarter. This is just what this group does.
Normally the Lakers’ postgame quotes are just as predictable, some cursed combination of a team that has only played hard a handful of times this year saying they just need to play harder, or a roster that hasn’t looked to have a real coherent offensive plan in months saying they only need to execute more and everything will be fine.
But things clearly aren’t fine, and if multiple members of the team admitting to reporters that they’re counting down the days until the season is over wasn’t enough evidence, it seems that even publicly, the Lakers are at a point where even they are tired of spouting meaningless hopeful cliches about a hopeless team following yet another blowout.
There was Frank Vogel calling out the effort of a team that fairly obviously quit on him weeks ago...
Vogel was not pleased with tonight's performance, calling it "unacceptable." He went on, "We've gotta take better shots and take care of the basketball."— Cooper Halpern (@CooperHalpern) March 14, 2022
Vogel: "Nothing we did tonight was good enough."— Cooper Halpern (@CooperHalpern) March 14, 2022
Vogel: "They had 20 fast break points in the first quarter, I don't know if I've ever seen that."— Cooper Halpern (@CooperHalpern) March 14, 2022
...and then Malik Monk admitted that he is sick of talking about how the team isn’t trying hard enough when they haven’t tried consistently all year.
Malik Monk says the team needed more urgency on the defensive end. Says the team gave up too many easy buckets.— Jacob Rude (@JacobRude) March 14, 2022
Monk says he doesn't think the team tries enough - himself included - at times this year.— Jacob Rude (@JacobRude) March 14, 2022
"We just have to get it together. Sick of saying that shit, though."
And finally, LeBron James arrived, saying the quiet part out loud about how hopeless this all is after essentially admitting that at this point he’s just looking for positives outside of the team’s win-loss record:
LeBron on Malik Monk saying the Lakers don't "try hard" often enough:— Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA) March 14, 2022
"When we get down, we've lost so many games that we feel like we can't get out of the hole at times...As a collective unit, we haven't been in the foxhole to be able to say, 'OK we can get out of this.'"
New story: On another losing night amid a losing season, LeBron James notched a 1-of-1 statistical milestone. James: “No matter what's going on this season, you try to take the victories that happen” https://t.co/qXxrnPnTIs— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) March 14, 2022
LeBron on what Anthony Davis' return would mean: "It puts a band aid on some things, but we just haven't had enough chemistry, enough time with our group to know what we can do."— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) March 14, 2022
Says AD would help "but it definitely doesn't answer all the questions."
So yeah. This team is cooked. They’ll probably make the play-in because of how horrific most of the teams behind them in the Western Conference standings are, but hope for anything beyond that is foolhardy at this point. They’ve realized it, and hey, at least they have enough courtesy that they’re trying to warn us about what’s coming. After all, expectations are the root of all disappointments. So credit to this team for making sure their fans won’t have any of the former in order to try and save them from the latter.
They may not be good, but at least they’re honest.