If you had any sliver of optimism about the chances that the Los Angeles Lakers had this season, that optimism was quickly squashed on Tuesday night when the team opened the season with a 123-109 loss to the defending champion Golden State Warriors. Despite LeBron James (31 points), Anthony Davis (27 points), and even Russell Westbrook (19 points on 12 field-goal attempts) playing well, the team fell behind big in the 3rd quarter after their poor shooting finally caught up to them. The Lakers finished 10/40 on 3-pointers in the game, with LeBron not holding back afterward about how poor the roster’s shooting really is (h/t ESPN’s Dave McMenamin).
“I think we’re getting great looks and I think there also could be teams giving us great looks. I mean, to be completely honest, we’re not a team that’s constructed of great shooting. And that’s just what the truth of the matter is. It’s not like we’re sitting here with a lot of lasers on our team. But that doesn’t deter us from still trying to get great shots. When you get those opportunities, you take them. But we’re not sitting here with a bunch of 40-plus (percent) career 3-point shooting guys.”
LeBron James had a pretty blunt assessment of the Lakers’ 3-point personnel after LAL went 10-of-40 from deep in the opener. pic.twitter.com/Fwzdj24PmC
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) October 19, 2022
After criticizing the roster after game one, LeBron then brought out a football analogy, comparing the Lakers’ lack of shooting to a Tom Brady offense having a bunch of “underneath route runners” instead of deep threats and then you wonder why the quarterback isn’t throwing deep. To translate that analogy, I’d assume LeBron is stating that without competent 3-point shooters, you can’t expect the Lakers to be winning games with their 3-point shooting.
Oh, and also… LeBron is the Tom Brady of the NBA. He had to make sure that got in there.
Anthony Davis was also asked about the team’s shooting and, well, let’s just say Davis is always the most optimistic one in the Lakers organization.
"Everybody had great looks. We just didn't make them. …I think we should be fine," Anthony Davis on the Lakers' shooting.
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) October 19, 2022
LeBron said this game went as he expected, for the most part:
“That comes from a team that’s coming together for the first time … but I loved the way we competed. Once we get on the same page, know where guys are going to be … (things can improve).”
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) October 19, 2022
Other than that, the postgame quotes from the Lakers included Darvin Ham lamenting over the team’s turnovers (which were only 21 to the Warriors’ 18) before saying he believes it’s something that could be improved. There were also a pair of notable and controversial quotes from Russell Westbrook (something I’m sure will happen again more than once this season), including one in response to Charles Barkley stating on Inside the NBA that the Lakers have taken Westbrook’s “entire joy out of basketball.” Westbrook didn’t really address the statement directly, instead stating that he’s “blessed” to be in the NBA no matter what and that he has his faith, family, and friends to lean on.
— The Lakers Review (@TheLakersReview) October 19, 2022
The other Westbrook quote was regarding his hamstring injury sustained in the preseason. The injury was causing doubt about his availability for this game a couple of days ago, however, all signs pointed to him playing at the start of the day. The L.A. Times’ Dan Woike astutely asked if Westbrook felt that his exclusion from the starting lineup in the final preseason game had anything to do with aggravating his hamstring with Westbrook emphatically confirming that was the case.
Asked by @DanWoikeSports whether he thinks that coming off the bench and breaking from his normal routine could have influenced his hamstring injury in Sacramento, Russell Westbrook said “absolutely,” and said he wasn’t sure how to stay warm once the game started: pic.twitter.com/L4oYmp8D73
— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) October 19, 2022
As Silver Screen & Roll’s Jacob Rude pointed out, this is a similar excuse Russ gave last season for a back injury last season that came when Frank Vogel benched him for an extended period late in a game.
I’m definitely not a world-class athlete by any sort of measure, but these excuses ring a little hollow coming from Westbrook. We all know how much pride and defiance make up his personality, making it easy to roll your eyes at him blaming what is essentially a demotion for getting himself injured. You would assume that a guy known as one of the most in-shape and athletic players in the NBA could handle coming off the bench for one preseason game without injuring himself, but alas, apparently that’s too much to ask.
There were some positives to take from the game, most notably the offensive play of the Big Three against what could be the repeating champions this season. However, all of that will be overshadowed by LeBron James — one of the most calculated speakers in NBA history — criticizing the roster construction after only one game.