Coming off of a wire-to-wire win against the Memphis Grizzlies, which saw Julius Randle post his second triple-double of the season, the team wasn’t able to string together another win in Portland. The team played well enough to take a nine point advantage into the locker room at half time but were outscored 65-47 in the second half to lose by a score of 118-109. This marks the ninth loss in a row to the Trail Blazers, dating back to March of 2014.
Here are some of our takeaways:
Late game execution still an issue
Heading into the fourth quarter the Lakers were all knotted up with the Blazers at 84 and even had a 103-99 lead with 5:23 left in the game, but from there on it was all downhill. As we’ve seen time and time again this year, the team was unable to get quality looks down the stretch and it cost them here tonight.
There were multiple one-on-one situations where either Jordan Clarkson, D’Angelo Russell or Nick Young were ending possessions with contested jumpers. Against a team with as much firepower as Portland, you have to be able to execute offensively in close games and Los Angeles just wasn’t able to do so.
#BenchMob is back
After a shaky opening period the league’s top scoring bench unit handled their business to close out the first half. The bench was led by the high energy play of the former Kansas big men Thomas Robinson and Tarik Black. During three different occasions spanning over eight minutes the lineup of Williams/Clarkson/Ingram/Robinson/Black was a +11, the best of any lineup for the team.
Thomas Robinson has really played well filling in for the injured Larry Nance, Jr. Tonight he contributed 5 points, 5 rebounds (3 offensive), 2 steals, and 2 assists in just 14 minutes of action. And Tarik Black has picked up his play as well alongside Robinson as he had 9 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 blocks in 14 minutes as well.
While the team will obviously continue to miss Nance, Jr’s athleticism and rebounding abilities, it is welcomed to see Robinson come in and make his presence felt right away.
The kids are alright
With Luol Deng out tonight, missing his first game of the season, Brandon Ingram was called on for the start. He was effective offensively scoring 10 points in the first half while shooting 50 percent for the game and knocking down a couple of threes. The young core of the team led the Lakers tonight as Russell, Randle, Clarkson, and Ingram all scored in double figures and were four of the five highest scorers for LA. Those four players combined for 71 points led by D’Angelo Russell with a team-high 22 points, 10 of which came in the fourth quarter.
An inexperienced team leaning on its youngest players to also be its best players night in and night out will struggle, but the development is continuing and that’s the biggest takeaway.
Overall, the team competed hard and played well for a majority of the night, but the youth showed up late and that is something we as fans should be able to live with. As tough as the losses are, it sure as hell beats getting blown out every other night and not having any idea where the team is headed. Rebuilding sucks, but at the end of the day when things are all clicking, these lumps are what will make it even more worthwhile.
The Lakers are right back at it tomorrow at home against the Miami Heat, game tips off at 7:30 PST.