The Los Angeles Lakers are spiraling right now, losing both of their last two games to the Trail Blazers and Thunder. The loss on Thursday against the Thunder was the second game they dropped against Oklahoma City this season, with both games serving as the Thunder’s only two wins of the season. LeBron James missed that game due to an abdominal strain that will keep him out at least one week, missing the Trail Blazers game on Saturday that was over basically right when it started (it should be noted that Anthony Davis left early in the 1st quarter with a stomach bug). The Lakers gave up a 22-2 run in the middle of the opening quarter, failing to put up anything that looked reminiscent of a comeback as the Trail Blazers extended their lead to as much as 34 in the second half.
After the game — although it didn’t really need to be said — many of the Lakers passed up the opportunity to bring up excuses for the 105-90 loss, instead putting their hands up and attributing it all to a lack of effort (h/t Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen & Roll).
“I think for the most part tonight we just didn’t play basketball,” Carmelo Anthony said when he was asked about the team’s injuries presenting a necessary “next man up” mentaliity. “We did not go out there and compete. We didn’t play hard. We’ve only played in spurts.”
Carmelo Anthony was even presented with an easy lay-up from the prompted question, as it surrounded the fact that the Lakers had four rotation players out of the game in LeBron James, Trevor Ariza, Talen Horton-Tucker, and Kendrick Nunn (the latter three of which are yet to even debut this season). Anthony did comment on this later in his quote, however, he wanted to note up front that the extremely disappointing nature of the game against the Trail Blazers could only be chalked up to their effort, not the injuries.
Dwight Howard also blamed their effort, saying they “can’t make excuses”.
Dwight Howard used the word "effort" nine times in his postgame remarks, and said "no excuses" at least three times.
— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) November 7, 2021
Russell Westbrook had easily his worst game as a Laker (at least since opening night), posting only eight points with three fouls and six assists that were squandered by an equal amount of turnovers. He also did not present any excuses for his poor play (reported by Harrison Faigen from SS&R).
“Just from my perspective, just play harder,” Westbrook said when asked what he needs to do better. “That’s strictly just speaking for myself, do a better job of just being me consistently and not confining my game or how I play because it just doesn’t work for our team. It doesn’t work. Just in general, it doesn’t put me in a position or at the pace that I need to play at to better my teammates. So that’s just something I need to make sure I’m consistently doing.”
It sounds like the Lakers have identified what they’ll need to do with LeBron out. However, that’s easier said than done. The fact of the matter is that good teams (there’s much more teams better than the Trail Blazers) will out-score them at will even if the Lakers have Westbrook and Davis out there and they are giving 100%. Either way, that 100% effort — maybe even 110% — has to be present at all times if they want to steal some wins while they wait for their King and additional rotation players to return to the court.
If that effort continues to wane, it could get real ugly, real quick.