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Lakers’ poor second half leads to loss against the Celtics

Despite once again getting strong performances across the board, L.A. couldn't match Boston’s intensity late.

2023 NBA Summer League - Los Angeles Lakers v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Lakers’ Summer League team were undefeated in Las Vegas heading into Wednesday, but a rough second half snapped their win-streak as they fell to the Boston Celtics, 95-90.

Despite trailing by double-digits for most of the contest, the Celtics made a strong push and retook the lead in the third quarter behind the passionate play of rookie Jordan Walsh. The No. 38 pick scored 25 points and pulled down eight rebounds in the win.

After starting out hot from the field, the Lakers’ offense struggled to respond to Boston’s ball pressure and zone defense. And on the other end, the team simply couldn’t keep the Celtics out of the paint.

Although the final result wasn't ideal, it wasn't all negative for L.A.

While this setting is often a stage reserved for individuals to make a name for themselves and land a job, these games have showcased the squad’s cohesion and teamwork despite only playing together for a short period of time.

That trend continued against Boston, as it was once again a collective effort for the purple and gold with four players finishing in double-digits (Colin Castleton had nine points).

Like he has all summer, Max Christie led the way with 24 points and eight rebounds. The (still just) 20-year-old has packed on muscle was on full display early on, as he bruised his way to the rim for dunk attempts and drawn fouls. In the instances where the space for the drive wasn't there, he smoothly knocked down jumpers from all over the floor.

While it’s difficult to take too much away from the happenings in Summer League, Christie’s play has certainly put him at least in the running for a spot in the rotation this upcoming season.

Another bright spot of late has been the shooting of D’Moi Hodge. The team’s newest two-way signee has turned heads in Las Vegas thanks to his ability to space the floor. He knocked down 6 of his 13 attempts on Wednesday night and finished with 22 points.

Anecdotally, when recently asked which player he patterns his game after, Hodge answered former Laker, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Between his feisty defense and perimeter game, it’s been easy to see why.

Even in defeat, the experience of playing against a physical team hopefully serves as a good learning lesson for the team’s young players. It may even foreshadow the likely growing pains that will come with the transition to playing at the professional level.

Regardless of what transpires the rest of the way, the glimpses and tangible production from the Lakers’ key young players are proving this summer has been a resounding success.

Next up, the Lakers take on the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday.

You can follow Alex on Twitter at @AlexmRegla.

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