The last few games for the Lakers have not been close ones at all, with 3 games in a row being decided by 23 points or more. Unfortunately, Thursday night’s game against the Thunder saw them on the wrong side of the situation. After a solid first quarter of play in which Los Angeles grabbed a 37-30 lead, Oklahoma City took command in the second. They won the quarter 42-23 and took a 12-point lead into halftime. While the third quarter was closer, the Thunder still managed to extend their lead to an even 20 points and grab total control of the contest. They would eventually run through the tape with a 133-110 victory and snap a 2-game losing streak to collect win number 12 on the season.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Lakers let the early momentum slip away
Considering the hot start that the Lakers got off to in the game, it’s surprising to see how badly they ended up losing. Anthony Davis and the rest of the squad seemed to come out with a burst of energy early on, controlling most of the entire opening quarter. Davis, who finished the game with a monster stat line of 32-14-2, scored 15 of his points in the first.
The Lakers had as big as a 14-point lead in the first, finishing the quarter up leading 37-30. From that point on, they would be outscored by a margin of 73-103. The team’s lack of effort on the defensive end became more and more apparent as the game went on, and Los Angeles was never able to put together a run to try and recover.
Gilgeous-Alexander leads the charge for OKC
With each year that goes by, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander becomes more and more scary to play against. The 6-year guard is off to a ridiculously hot start this year, averaging 30.5 points, 6 rebounds and 6.1 assists. He has done an excellent job scoring and facilitating, leading the Thunder to a 12-6 start to the season. The Lakers were the latest team to come up short in their attempt to limit his production, as Gilgeous Alexander went for 33-4-7.
His ability to pass and score at equally successful rates makes game planning for him a nightmare. He was able to have Jalen Williams (21 points), Chet Holmgren (18 points), and Josh Giddey (14 points) all involved as a well-rounded effort from OKC led the charge. The Thunder backcourt simply had their way and dominated a matchup against Los Angeles’s backcourt of D’Angelo Russell and Max Christie, who combined for just 24 points.
Three-point shooting slump continues
There seems to be a direct correlation for the Lakers between their record in the last 5 games (2-3) and their three-point shooting percentage. During the stretch, Los Angeles has shot an average of just 32.6% from beyond the arch, severely limiting their offensive potential. Their 112.4 ppg average during the stretch has not been enough to make up for the lack of defensive effort, the team is showing that they are still experiencing the early season growing pains that typically exist for most NBA units. While shooting slumps are a normal occurrence that tend to correct themselves over time, it’s still unsettling to see the inconsistency that Los Angeles has been experiencing. The lopsided blowout style that they have been living by for the past few days will not be sustainable forever, and Austin Reaves is one player who recognizes that the team is not where it needs to be.
While Reaves admitted to having his own struggles shooting the basketball, he remains optimistic about what the Lakers have on their roster. “I believe in what we have in this locker room and…you know…the guys that can shoot the ball,” he said. “I don’t see this being a trend for the whole year.” Hopefully, Reaves is right, and Los Angeles will be able to fully sync as a unit when it matters down the stretch.
The Lakers will have a day off before returning home to take on the Houston Rockets on Saturday night. It will be a good challenge against another young team that has gotten off to a respectable start.
The game is scheduled to tip off at 7:30 p.m. PT.