Even if taking into account injuries to LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma and Rajon Rondo, the Los Angeles Lakers suffered arguably their worst loss of the season in a 119-112 defeat to wrap up a four-game road trip.
Losers of eight in a row, the Knicks opened the game on a 22-5 run. Lakers head coach Luke Walton turned to various lineups in search of better energy and production. “They were more ready, for some reason, than we were to start that game,” Walton said after the loss.
His team did manage to cut into their deficit and go on to outscore the Knicks by 10 points in each the second and third quarter. The Lakers took their first lead of the game on Brandon Ingram’s layup with 3:15 remaining in the third quarter.
They were leading up six heading into the fourth, which the Knicks began on a 5-0 run. They remained the aggressor and rode that to shooting 20 free throws over the final 12 minutes.
In addition to their struggles defensively, the Lakers also grew stagnant on offense, turned the ball over at a high rate and struggled to convert at the charity stripe. They are issues that have been omnipresent in games without James and Rondo.
Following a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Walton expressed a belief players were breaking away from executing the offense in attempt to make up for the absences, which ultimately was backfiring. Walton added it wasn’t out of selfishness, but he was much more critical Friday.
“Until we accept that the team is the most important thing, and I can’t tell if it’s because we’re missing open shots, that we stop trusting each other,” Walton began. “But the ball was moving beautifully when we built our lead.
“We got to the fourth and we had a couple possessions of nice ball movement and then once shots didn’t go in, guys started trying to do it on their own. That’s not a recipe for us to win. What we’re playing with, the amount of injuries we have to guys that are a huge part of what we do, we’ve got to play for one another.”
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