The Los Angeles Lakers played without LeBron James and let a lead get away for second straight night to a division rival. This time, Luke Walton’s team fell victim to a 22-0 run by the Clippers on the way to a 118-107 defeat.
Once again the Lakers did some things well and even stretched their lead to double-digits in the third quarter before everything collapsed. Without James, Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee and Michael Beasley, the Lakers relied on their young core, and it showed against the veteran Clippers.
“With our group, with what we have now, we have to understand how important it is that we continue to stick together and keep our composure,” Walton said following the loss. “The Clippers did a nice job of putting in a really tough, defensive-minded group out there, we give in a little bit as a team. Our body language gets off a little bit.
“What we have to understand is, as a group we’re going to win and we’re going to lose. We have to stay together no matter what.”
Veterans tend to attack young players and the Clippers have plenty of players who have no problem getting physical. Be it perimeter players like Patrick Beverley and Avery Bradley, or bigger guys such as Tobias Harris, Marcin Gortat and Montrezl Harrell, the Clippers are going to make teams earn every point.
Once the Clippers turned up the intensity in the third quarter, the Lakers had no answer. Though, that’s not what frustrated or concerned Walton most.
“It’s not the loss, I felt like we kind of started to splinter a little bit while it was happening. That can’t happen,” he said. “We can lose games but we’re going to lose them together. We win them, we win them together. No matter what’s happening on the court, we have to stay together and keep working.”
The Lakers falling apart and trying to calm things down individually rather than as a team manifested itself in turnovers. Having just three at halftime, the team finished with 17 overall, including four each by Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma.
Times like those are when having veterans like James and Rondo make all the difference. But for the time being, Walton and his young team will have to figure it out with what they have.
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