The Lakers are currently 19-39 going into the All-Star break. In their last game, they lost by 36 to the Phoenix Suns, who have a record of 18-39. Is it surprising that the Lakers lost so horribly to one of the very few teams with fewer wins than them? Not really. Is it a cause for concern? Absolutely.
Sure, teams have good days and they have bad days. Sometimes even extremely bad days. The problem is, you can’t have as many second half collapses as the Lakers have and expect to be a good team. The All-Star break gives the team some much-needed rest. Hopefully, a week will be enough to have the players return with some fresh energy. However, it doesn’t do them any favors that they come back to play the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Lakers need to decide what they’re going to focus on. The trade deadline is approaching and it’s unclear whether or not anyone will be moved. But regardless of trades, the Lakers should focus on becoming a better second half team to finish out the season. A lot of people probably think they should just tank for the pick, but there’s a chance they’ll do that without even trying anyway.
While the Lakers have lost big in games this season, such as that Suns game, there are plenty of games that they should have or could have won. Some losses have only been by a few scores or less. Before being demolished by the Suns, they lost by one to the Sacramento Kings in a game where Boogie seemed like he would foul half of the team out. Chances are, the Lakers should have pulled out that win.
Against the Suns, Brandon Ingram shot 14.3% from the field and missed 1 of 2 free throws in 28 minutes of play. That’s not exactly the best stat line ever. Ingram has a long way to go in order to become a more consistent player and he’s not the only one. But this also goes for the whole team, they need to learn to be consistent for an entire game, not just 75-80% of one. If they focus on this, they can start winning games in the fourth quarter rather than giving them away.
Starting a game strong doesn’t mean anything if you can’t close it out. The Lakers need to focus on how to control the pace of the game to give themselves the advantage. Wearing themselves out in the first half does no one any favors. Luke Walton has done a good job of figuring out what lineups work with this group of guys. I really don’t think he’s to blame for the majority of these losses. Any time you have a bunch of young guys on a team, it will be a major learning process. It’s safe to say, the Lakers are far from finished with that process.