LOS ANGELES — If the Lakers had managed to guard two large leads towards the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder — up 26 on the highway final week and up 19 at Staples Middle on Thursday evening — they might be sitting fairly with a 7-2 document and OKC can be winless at 0-8.
Alas, that is not the case. The Thunder outscored the Lakers 35-24 within the fourth quarter and gained 107-104 Thursday for his or her second come-from-behind win towards L.A., leaving the new-look Lakers, as soon as once more, scratching their collective heads about what occurred.
“Defensively we have been in all places,” mentioned Anthony Davis, whose 29 factors, 18 rebounds and 5 assists weren’t sufficient to carry L.A. to the win. “I really feel like they have been ready on our coverages and have been simply choosing us aside. … For some purpose this crew is available in each time they make pictures towards us, they made 15 3s once more tonight.”
The Thunder went 15-for-41 from 3, this after going 15-for-37 from 3 of their win final Wednesday. The Lakers’ protection, ranked within the high three every of the previous two seasons beneath coach Frank Vogel, continues to lag. After the Thunder loss, L.A. is permitting 107.2 factors per 100 possessions, placing the Lakers within the backside half of the league (seventeenth).
Davis, when requested concerning the defensive miscues, made it clear that the Lakers have been executing the schemes that have been requested of them, however the Thunder have been ready to interrupt them down.
“I imply they knew what we have been doing, type of did that whole second half and their coach or Shai [Gilgeous-Alexander], whoever it was that made the adjustment to place their gamers in the correct spot,” Davis mentioned. “They usually made pictures.”
Within the final couple of minutes, the sport got here right down to the shot that Gilgeous-Alexander hit — a 34-footer from the brand with 16 seconds left on the shot clock and 1:18 left within the recreation clock to place the Thunder up by six — and the shot that Russell Westbrook missed.
After Carmelo Anthony hit two late 3s to make it a one-possession recreation, Westbrook pushed the ball up the courtroom and missed a 3 from the wing with 3.5 seconds remaining, fairly than working to search out the new hand.
“Not adequate,” Vogel mentioned of Westbrook’s choice to shoot it. “We wish to get a greater shot than that. The spacing wasn’t nice. We have been making an attempt to get Melo to the highest of the ground, however the spacing wasn’t nice.”
Whereas the Lakers have had greater than their fair proportion of accidents bogging down their recent starting — LeBron James missed his third recreation of the season already, this time with an belly pressure that’s anticipated to maintain him out at the very least one other week, and Davis suffered a sprained proper thumb within the first half however performed by way of it — there’s one thing else working towards them.
Groups, regardless of their document, appear to carry the competitors to L.A., with a rigor that the Lakers appear ill-equipped to fulfill for the time being.
“It is one thing that we focus on. We speak about it on a regular basis. Simply understanding and proudly owning the truth that guys will play, groups will play in a different way once they play towards us,” mentioned Anthony, who scored 21 and noticed L.A. lose for the primary time in 4 video games that he has scored 20-plus. “In order that’s [not] the elephant within the room. That is not one thing that we do not discuss. We all know that, we speak about it, we focus on it.
“I imply, you have a look at like tonight for an instance, [Darius] Bazley, proper? I do not wish to say his stats, however we go over that stuff, we scout that. However he comes towards us and he makes most of his 3s towards us. So, it’ll occur. We simply obtained to personal that. We obtained to just accept that and simply ensure that we minimize folks’s water off when that point comes.”
Bazley was 8-for-37 from deep coming into Thursday and went 2-for-3 towards the Lakers.
From targets on their backs, to finger pointing, to a damaged thumb for Talen Horton-Tucker and now sprained thumb for Davis, and a handful of different accidents to anticipated rotation gamers, the problems are mounting for a Lakers crew clear in its intention to win a championship this season.
It has been an uneven begin at greatest. However there’s loads of basketball to go earlier than the end line.
“It is attention-grabbing,” Westbrook mentioned when requested concerning the damage woes. “However you realize … I am an individual that you simply play the playing cards you are dealt. No matter it’s, no matter that is obtainable, that is what we work with. We’ve not had our full crew one time — not even shut really.
“So, we simply obtained to take no matter it’s that we’ve and make one of the best out of it and compete to one of the best of our skills.”