The Lakers put up a clunker of a performance against Oklahoma City, losing 105-86 bringing their record in the regular season bubble to 2-2. It was a disappointing performance, as all night the Lakers struggled to hit shots in their lowest scoring output of the season. It was the first time all year that Los Angeles trailed a game wire-to-wire. With AD in foul trouble most of the night it never felt like happening for them. Oklahoma City won this game at the line, starting the game hitting their first 18 free throws and holding a lead throughout the contest.
The role players struggled mightily throughout, as Danny Green continued to stay cold in the bubble (3-8) and Dion Waiters couldn’t find a rhythm, going 5-13, with all of his makes coming in what amounted to garbage time. Not to single them out, as the team shot an abysmal 5-37 (13.5%) from deep. All night, it felt as if the offense was never getting out of low gear and that proved to be the case. Even when the Lakers cut the Thunder lead to 7 at halftime, there was never that spark to get them over the hump. Oklahoma City did a good job limiting the Lakers’ transition opportunities, and with Davis having an off game and LeBron’s struggles in getting the ball up the court quickly, it never really felt as if Los Angeles was going to be able to mount a true comeback.
Defensively, the Lakers played pretty well and actually won the turnover battle, as Oklahoma City shot 43% (20.8% from deep). The defense actually helped spark a mini-comeback early on, with Vogel switching to a zone defense that gave Oklahoma City fits in their last matchup, but the Lakers couldn’t capitalize. Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander controlled the game for Oklahoma City, as SGA in particular showed why he was the jewel of the Paul George trade.
While this game was ultimately meaningless for the one-seed Lake Show, it’s still disappointing to see them struggle, as you would like to see them get into a rhythm before the playoffs start. There’s still some time to iron the kinks out, and ultimately this might be a case of the Lakers on cruise control, but given the nature of the restart, the Lakers are running out of games before the games matter again.
The Lakers are back in business tomorrow against the Houston Rockets. Tip-off is scheduled for 9PM EST/6 PM PST.