The Lakers couldn’t pony up an inspired performance against the Spurs on Monday night, losing 117-110 from AT&T Center.
Morale was low for LA as LeBron James‘ status was downgraded to “out” hours before the contest, experiencing “significant knee soreness” after a 56-point performance against the Warriors on Saturday.
But in the end, it was Lakers head coach Frank Vogel that played the most critical role in LA’s defeat after an unwillingness to size up against San Antonio, setting up the Lakers for failure on the offensive boards without Dwight Howard‘s size in the game.
San Antonio’s Dejounte Murray lifted the Spurs to the victory with 26 points, amid a terrible night from the free-throw line for the team. The Spurs went 16-30 from the line.
A big swing in the Lakers’ favor to start the fourth was built upon the Spurs’ troubles at the line, but Gregg Popovich’s team ultimately knew how to button up their play for the win.
Westbrook went 7-of-13 and 5-of-14 from the field to put up 17 on a night that was suited for All-Star Russ to show up. He never broke through and was second to Talen Horton-Tuckers (18) in scoring; also tied with Malik Monk and Carmelo Anthony‘s 17.
The Lakers’ questionable health late in the season stacks upon the chemistry issues that already befell the team.
With only 18 games remaining, the Lakers wait on the status of two of their key pieces on offense and for Vogel to chip in some better coaching performances to overcome the team’s deficiencies.
The Lakers need a healthy LeBron back to stand a chance against the Phoenix Suns on Sunday and against a Toronto Raptors team hanging on to a fringe playoff seeding the following day.
Los Angeles is 28-36 following Monday’s loss and still vying for the play-in tournament as the ninth seed in the Western Conference.