New game, same Lakers.
There was little doubt going into Tuesday’s game that the Mavericks were going to win big, and they ensured there would be no scrappy underdog fight, thoroughly demolishing the Lakers from the opening tip for a 128-110 win.
The Mavericks bombarded the Lakers from range, in the paint, defensively, offensively, on special teams, on set pieces, electronically and in the metaverse. It was such a thorough beatdown that the Lakers fake comeback only trimmed the deficit to 18 points.
Malik Monk had 28 points, and Russell Westbrook had 25 on the night as the pair shot a combined 19-33 from the field. But the glaring problem was not a scoring one for the Lakers in this game, but a defensive and effort issue.
The 82 points the Mavs scored in the first half were the most allowed in a half in franchise history since the team moved to Los Angeles. That’s an effort problem as much as anything else. The Lakers CAN play with the level of effort necessary to avoid that level of beatdown and, admittedly, had me convinced they had turned some type of proverbial corner with their play last week.
But the blown lead against the Pelicans and LeBron James’ injury in that contest have seemingly tipped the Lakers over the edge and back into the low-effort, care-free basketball. And that’s a particularly damning mindset to have when Tuesday’s loss officially knocked the Lakers out of the play-in game and into the 11th seed in the Western Conference.
In a previous life, I covered high school sports for a rural town in Indiana. During my five years there, I watched the worst basketball game of my life, a high school varsity girls’ basketball game. The halftime score was 6-6. The final score was 19-13.
The winning team in that game shot 20% from the field. The losing team shot 17%. The two teams combined to shoot 2-22 from the 3-point line. There were 26 combined turnovers and 13 combined field goals. Objectively, it is the worst game I’ve ever seen. It’s seared into my brain.
I would rather watch that game on repeat than watch this Lakers team play seven more games with this level of effort. At least those kids tried. This Lakers team has given up. I can excuse a lack of execution. I cannot excuse a lack of effort.
Unfortunately, watching that game repeatedly is not an option, as the Lakers still have a few more left to play before their offseason starts. So we’ll go through this charade again on Thursday against the Jazz in Utah. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. PT, and somehow, unfortunately, the Lakers will be on national TV on TNT again, as well as locally on Spectrum SportsNet for that one.