The were handed a lamentable loss Thursday night, 108-95, against the Grizzlies.
Just as LA rose above .500 with a win against the Celtics Tuesday night, it fell back to the even mark (13-13) without many positives to draw from the 13-point loss to the Grizzlies.
Memphis’ Jaren Jackson, Jr. and Desmond Bane combined for 48 points to lead the victory for the Grizzlies — missing Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks and Brandon Clarke in the rotation, which could have paid off for the Lakers.
Atop spotty performances from the majority of the starting lineup, the Lakers’ nagging weakness all night became committed turnovers.
Memphis took full advantage of the Lakers’ carefree passing, scoring 27 points off the 22 turnovers. LeBron James had five on the night, while a disappointing outing from Russell Westbrook contributed with six turnovers.
James responded after the game that despite cleaning up turnovers this season, Thursday’s loss became a product of their giveaways and ultimately “bit them in the butt.”
Lakers coach Frank Vogel failed to get a body on Grizzlies center Steven Adams after he collected 13 rebounds, eight of those being offensive boards. Repeated mistakes by the Lakers led to second opportunities and Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins had his team primed to capitalize.
The Lakers have recently found strides in their small-ball rotation and lineup changes administered by Vogel, then supported by LeBron. Neither led a cohesive offense and the Big 3 in LA failed to muster enough points to defeat the NBA’s youngest team.
While it’s hard to critique a LeBron triple-double, the five turnovers and quiet 20 points on the night did leave potential for improved performance or a different performance to cater to the Lakers’ deficiencies on the night. LeBron added 10 rebounds, 11 assists and four steals while hurting the team by going 1 of 6 from 3-point range.
Anthony Davis drew groans from Lakers fans following his 22-point performance on 8 of 16 shooting and 38 minutes.
Davis didn’t do much with his time spent on an offensive assignment or guarding the paint.
AD’s average scoring night — paired with little help from Westbrook, Talen Horton-Tucker (10), and a Lakers bench that combined for 24 points — allowed the Grizzlies to pull off the convincing win, improving to 15-11.
At one point in his post-game presser, Vogel called the team’s loss a product of playing too “casual.”
With that comment, Los Angeles stooped to their newest low this season: becoming a group overzealous by a single win above .500 that they inexcusably fumble the game plan for subsequent contests. Thus setting off a cycle where they rebound one game, lose the next and continue the trend for a meager season finish.
It’s not the brand of basketball expected under the Buss ownership, but it may be a telltale of the near future at Crypto.com Arena.
The Lakers get a prime rebound game against the Oklahoma City Thunder (8-16) but face expectations to start getting into win-now mode ASAP.
According to the telecast, this season marks only the third time a LeBron-led team has been .500 or worse on the season by December’s slate of games.