The Los Angeles Lakers were only down by 14 against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the end of the first quarter. That may not sound great, but compared to their last two games, when the team trailed by more than 20 after each first period, the purple and gold practically came out like world-beaters.
So with the game comfortably “close” — by this team’s usual, standards at least — I got up from my couch to go make some ginseng tea and wake myself up to settle in for the stretch run. But while reaching for the tea bags on the top shelf, I accidentally knocked over the everything bagel seasoning my wife keeps in the cupboard, shattering the bottle, spilling poppyseeds, sesame seeds, dried onions and garlic flakes all over the kitchen floor and scaring my poor cat so bad that he scratched me in an attempt to ward off what he must have thought was attempted catricide.
When I walked back to my TV screen a few minutes later after cleaning up, I saw that the Lakers’ start to the second quarter had been just as disastrous. The Wolves went on a 14-5 run to open up the period as the Lakers remembered that they hate basketball and each other, and Minnesota would soon lead by 21 at halftime before ultimately mostly cruising to a 124-104 victory.
This is the third loss in a row for the Lakers, and drops them to 29-40 on the season.
When Lakers legend and Spectrum SportsNet analyst James Worthy came on screen for the halftime show, he said “I don't have anything to say. I really don’t,” and it was hard to argue with the sentiment. We are running out of ways to describe how embarrassing, bad and disrespectful to the game of basketball this team is.
They don’t defend. They don’t score particularly well. And they don’t really look all that interested in changing either of those things, or even playing with any heart or sense of professionalism, at least not for any extended period when they’re not already down big and facing a team that is showing less interest as a result of the giant lead they’ve already built.
LeBron walked comically slowly back up the court on offense after Vanderbilt broke free for an open dunk. It's a 75-64 game, but James has been seemingly losing patience as the night has gone on.— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) March 17, 2022
LeBron went back to the bench for his rest looking frustrated. Lakers airballed two shots in a row but Wolves' lead is at 12 after two Russ free throws with 1:31 left in the third.— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) March 17, 2022
To prove that point, the Lakers cut what was once a 25-point deficit to single digits multiple times in the fourth quarter in a showcase of another one of their patented fake comebacks, but this team is past the point in the season where they deserve any credit for trying just long enough to make what could have been a blowout look a little more respectable. Especially not when they don’t show anywhere near the team-wide and consistent defensive commitment to push things the rest of the way.
So yes, LeBron James scored a team-high 19 points, but he did so on 8-21 shooting with five fouls while also spending most of the night looking like he’s the only one in the world that hates his teammates more than Lakers fans do. Russell Westbrook spent the game earning that annoyance while flailing around the court with his trademark brand of disengaged, inefficient and grumpy play. He even somehow air-balled a high five. No one else on this team is good. And now Talen Horton-Tucker is hurt. But the Lakers will play again on Friday, so we’ll all do this dance again. For 13 more games, and maybe a 14th, truly undeserved spot in the play-in, this team will still be out there.
But as has been clear for the last week or more, they’ve already packed their bags for literal or metaphorical Cancun. So if you’ll excuse me, I have a kitchen to clean up. It’s one of the only semi-basketball-related misfortunes in Los Angeles I can’t blame this team for.