In a game that was treated as the biggest of the season heading into it, the Lakers looked lethargic from the start and were forced to play catch-up against the Clippers on Wednesday. Despite a patented Lakers fake comeback or two in the second half, the end result was all but decided as the Clippers won relatively handily.
It was a frustrating result, but one that perhaps shouldn’t be all that surprising. The Clippers had a bit of a scheduling quirk that allowed them four days off between games. The Lakers had their own scheduling quirk much, much earlier in the season that afforded them five days off in mid-November, so it’s something teams have had this season.
Comparatively, though, the Lakers very much did not have time off. Wednesday was the final game of a five-game road trip, the second night of a back-to-back and the fifth game in eight nights. Again, other teams go through the same type of road trips, so this isn’t unique to the Lakers.
But what was unique was the weather the Lakers had to...weather during the road trip. The team was forced to spend an extra night in Minnesota due to a snowstorm and had to deal with more snow in Utah on Tuesday. Anyone who has had to deal with weather impeding travel can tell you that it can take a toll.
After Wednesday’s game, head coach Darvin Ham cited the “real-life circumstances” and the conclusion of the road trip for the Lakers slow start.
"Our guys weathered all of that," Darvin Ham says of adversity on last trip -- which was, wait for it, mostly WEATHER related -- snowed in and stuck in Minny, hot and humid in HOU and then off to SLC for more snow. Guys were definitely rundown (I'm one of 'em!)— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) April 6, 2023
Darvin Ham said it's "real-life circumstances." Said the team knew it had to start the game right way, fatigue from the trip meant he knew it would be "tough." "Guys competed their butts off."— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) April 6, 2023
The Lakers spending 50 games being an unserious team backed them into a corner where they can’t afford excuses. The final game of a five-game road trip, even if it was technically back in Los Angeles, is a game teams often lose. The Lakers are no different, they just don’t have the wiggle room or margin for error.
It’s all going to come across as excuses for the loss even if it all is also valid reasoning. It wasn’t the only reason the Lakers lost, but the deck was certainly stacked against them on Wednesday, as it has been for much of the second half of the season. While the Lakers didn’t overcome it against the Clippers, it doesn’t ruin their postseason chances by any means, and the team could still secure the sixth seed, which is perhaps the biggest point to focus on with the team heading into the final weekend of the season.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.