Lakers are still winless after two games.
Well, I said that the Lakers were going to try to avoid going 0-2. Unfortunately, the Lakers fell to the Clippers in what I thought was a surprisingly hard-fought contest, 103-97.
It’s easy to see where the Lakers fell short at: their three-point shooting. If you thought their shooting in their first game was atrocious, well, Thursday’s contest was even worse. While the Clippers shot a dismal 9 for 29 (.310), the Lakers shot an awful 9 for 45 (.200). Yup. This team is not constructed around shooting. The Lakers tried to play Space Invaders and the aliens came crashing down unimpeded.
What was admirable, though, was their effort at the defensive side of the ball. Their rotations were fantastic almost the entire game. The Clippers had leads of 16 and 15 and the Lakers came back from both of them. There was a scary moment, though, when Anthony Davis landed hard on his back trying to block Kawhi Leonard. The Clippers took advantage and had a 17-0 run after that.
The problem was that while the Lakers continued to make great rotations and interceptions, they couldn’t make a shot from the perimeter. Eventually, guys like Kawhi, John Wall, Reggie Jackson, and Luke Kennard made key jumpers to keep the Clips ahead. Kawhi Leonard made a long jumper to put them up 6 with under a minute left and the Lakers were done from there.
From the Clippers’ side, they decided to make Kawhi off the bench and it seemed to work well for them. He scored 14 points and grabbed 7 rebounds in 21 minutes. John Wall and Paul George led the Clippers in a balanced attack with 15 points each. By the way, it’s so good to see Wall out there. At times, he even looked like his old self. I love that he’s out there playing the game that he loves after going through a rough period of his life.
What went a bit unnoticed was the rebounding. The Clippers smashed the Lakers on the boards, 58-38. Ivica Zubac grabbed 17 of those. The Lakers paid the price on playing small ball for most of the game.
As for the Lakers, I mentioned that they couldn’t make shots (.351 overall). Russell Westbrook didn’t make any of his 11 field goal attempts and he was very hesitant to shoot late in the game. It was good to see Lonnie Walker IV be aggressive (26 points in 21 shots although 2 for 9 from three). I had mentioned that he wasn’t a very good defensive player but he looked very active on both sides of the ball. Davis looked tentative after he got hurt; he did finish with 25 points. LeBron went for 20-10-6.
So while the Lakers held the L, it was encouraging to see this kind of effort on both sides of the ball. They took care of the ball much better against the Clippers with only 9 giveaways. But the home team was atrocious from the perimeter and I would’ve liked to see them not hunt for the three-ball when it’s not working for them. This was a real missed opportunity for the Lakers.
Nevertheless, while the Lakers are 0-2, there are some good signs despite the team just not being constructed well. What’s next for them? They go up against the Blazers at home on a Sunday matinee. And you know how they do against Portland!