Lakers try to explain faltering at the finish against Warriors

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Broderick Turner
·4 min read
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Golden State Warriors' Draymond Green, center, drives to the basket past Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James, right, during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, in Los Angeles. The Warriors won 115-113. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Warriors forward Draymond Green drives down the lane against the Lakers for a layup Monday night at Staples Center. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

As the Lakers tried to explain a puzzling defeat Monday night, they used plenty of catchphrases.

For Kyle Kuzma, it was the Lakers not having “a sense of urgency” and taking “your foot off the gas” during their 115-113 loss to the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center.

For Anthony Davis, it was the Lakers “settling for a lot of jumpers” after building a 19-point lead in the first quarter.

For LeBron James, that neither he (19 points) nor Davis (17) scored at least 20 points in a game in which they both played for just the fifth time since they became teammates was because the dynamic duo “was out of rhythm.”

The sting of this loss broke the Lakers’ five-game winning streak and left them 4-4 at home.

“A sense of urgency. I think that’s the biggest thing that was absent from a team perspective,” said Kuzma, who collected his second consecutive double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. “Any time having a lead going up 17, 20, you kind of always … I wouldn’t say always, but there’s an area where you can take your foot off the gas. That’s kind of what we did and stopped scoring, stopped defending for a section and they got back in the game.”

Davis didn’t see it as taking their foot off the gas as much as it was shot selection.

He could have thrown defense in there too, especially when the game mattered the most in the fourth quarter.

The Warriors dropped 34 points on 60.9% shooting against the nonexistent Lakers defense in the fourth.

Meanwhile, the Lakers scored just 21 points on 31.6% shooting in the fourth, including 11% (one for nine) from three-point range.

Warriors star Stephen Curry began to heat up in the second half, scoring 19 of his 26 in the final 24 minutes.

“I think we were just settling for a lot of jumpers on the offensive end,” Davis said. “They were there, but we still could have gotten to the paint. Any time we got to the paint in the first half, we got some good looks. But we were one-shot basketball a lot in the second half. And on the defensive end I think they started making shots. Steph started making shots and getting layups.

"We fouled a lot, they got to the free-throw line and made shots and got to the paint. [Andrew] Wiggins got open three times, picking and roll. There’re just things that we can do better. And like I said, anytime we did something wrong on the defensive end, it seemed like they made us pay.”

The Lakers didn’t have any assists in the fourth quarter and had just four fastbreak points in the game.

It didn’t help that their two stars, James and Davis, didn’t shine nearly as bright as they usually do.

“Both of us were just a little bit out of rhythm,” James said on Zoom. “And I think we're going to have games like that, where we're out of rhythm. The best thing about our team is we had guys who picked us up. Dennis [Schroder, 25 points] was great. Trezz [Montrezl Harrell, 17] again, coming off the bench was great. Kuz got hot for us a little bit in the third, made some shots for us. In times where we're both just a little bit out of rhythm, we have the ability to have our teammates pick us up and still give us a chance to win, which we did tonight.”

Part of James’ tough night was his five turnovers.

He was called for traveling with 3 minutes 44 seconds left and the Lakers ahead by seven. He was called for traveling again with 1:51 left and the Lakers down by two points.

And after each turnover, the Warriors made the Lakers pay by scoring and then putting more pressure on them as the game began to get away from L.A.

“Yeah, I mean I seen them on replays and it’s a move I’ve been making pretty much my whole career and if that’s the call that’s going to be called travel, then I would like to see it across the whole board, you know, every game and consistent like that,” James said.

“I mean, it’s so funny because the very next play, Draymond [Green] gets into the lane and slides his foot and it’s not called, and the same official called me for the travel is right there on the play and told me he didn’t travel. So that’s definitely something that you gotta be more leery about. But I have not been called for travels like that in my career.”

In its day-after report, the NBA confirmed the traveling call on James and said traveling should have been called on Green.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.