The Los Angeles Lakers allowed a 21-2 scoring run from the Toronto Raptors, and things only got marginally less bad from there. But this team has shown us over and over again that they have little in the way of heart or self-respect, and continued to disrespect the game of basketball and anyone rooting for them in another mostly lifeless, 114-103 defeat.
The Lakers trailed by 21 after the first quarter, which was somehow an improvement over their 26-point deficit against the Suns after the first 12 minutes on Sunday, but that was the only step forward the team was going to take on this night. They proceeded to trail for 20 points or more for the majority of the evening, outside of cutting things to 13 in the second quarter when the Raptors took their foot off the gas, and 9 in the fourth when the Raptors thought the game was over a little before it was.
But it was too little, too late, and this team is past the point where moral victories matter, or where they get credit for playing with the effort they need for 48 minutes just to compete for, like, approximately 12. If they really cared, they would have played as hard against the Raptors from the start as they did after Toronto eased up. And the most damning thing is that anyone who has watched the Lakers closely this year knew the above efforts were just going to be more fake comebacks in a year full of them, as this team lacks both the spiritual resilience and talent to make up any of the large gaps they give up with their addiction to quarter-long doses of lethargy.
Head coach Frank Vogel basically admitted to the former quality before the game.
“Just too many times where we just get into big deficits,” Vogel said when asked what has been most frustrating this year. “It takes its toll on your individual psyche and the psyche of your group. You’re constantly trying to push your guys to be better and coaching them hard, but also trying to keep them lifted because it definitely takes its toll on your psyche, just the amount of times we’ve been down 20-plus points this season. It’s been very difficult.”
Vogel said the team focused their film work that morning on transition defense and gang rebounding, neither of which the team that quit on him weeks ago looked particularly interested in doing for most of Monday’s game (What a surprise!). You almost wonder if after two losses this largely lifeless and embarrassing the front office would fire him just to show the players they’re still alive, but that would require Rob Pelinka and the Rambii to still believe in this season and/or risk their own ability to scapegoat Vogel this offseason to avoid having the focus turn squarely towards this flawed roster, two things they’ve shown about as much interest in as the Lakers’ players have in little things like the glass or stopping fastbreaks.
Hey, never say this organization doesn’t have synergy in their identity from top to bottom!
I don’t have much more analysis about this game beyond that. As I’ve said a few times this year, if it’s this clear no one on the team cares all that much, why should those of us on the outside? If you’re interested in stats from this one, Dave McMenamin of ESPN has a running thread on some of the more depressing ones for those of you that want to wallow in your misery. But I won’t force them on you, so click the link above at your own peril.
To put tonight in perspective, the Lakers lost by double digits to a Raptors team that shot 41 percent overall (rounding up), 27 percent from behind the arc and missed 10 free throws. In its own right, that's pretty damn impressive. AK— Kamenetzky Brothers (@KamBrothers) March 15, 2022
Where does the team go from here? Well, the Lakers will ostensibly take the court again to face the Timberwolves on Wednesday. But at this point, who cares? It’s pretty clear the Lakers don’t. Or at least not enough to bother playing hard for a whole game.
Still, credit where credit is due. This team is making it clear where they stand. Both with their words and their actions over the last 24 hours, they’ve at least had the decency to let us know they’re uninterested in truly doing what’s necessary to compete. There is an honesty in that, even if it’s not what anyone wanted to hear.