The Lakers are not playing team basketball
This game seemed like the Lakers' to lose as the Kings played without two of its starters, Richaun Holmes and Harrison Barnes, with many chances to put the game away if they managed to pull out some timely defensive stops. However, the Lakers simply did not defend when it mattered the most, and when the heroics from their superstars were hard to come by, the team looked lost on both ends of the floor.
What is most peculiar is how the Lakers executed in the extra periods, attempting several three-pointers off lazy isolation plays, often pull-ups or rushed attempts. On top of that, the Lakers had three of the best finishers in the league in the game down the stretch yet elected to shoot from the perimeter, playing into Alvin Gentry's game plan.
Lakers legend James Worthy was extremely unhappy with the end result and said the Lakers are not playing team basketball.
"I just want to gо hоme, man. Thеre's rеally nоt a lot tо talk abоut. They wеre 15-for-44 frоm three. AD 0-5, LeBrоn 2-13 & that's all thеy shоt dоwn the strеtch… If that's all wе're gоnna dо is stand around & shооt threes, we've got to dо more than that. That's nоt tеam baskеtball."
It is clear that the Lakers are still trying to figure out how this new roster of theirs will come together, but the shooting numbers of their two stars are an indication of two things: Lack of a game plan and fatigue. Davis going 0-5 is unacceptable, especially since he is attempting wide-open threes about 95 percent of the time. Yes, taking what the defense gives you is crucial at times, but AD seems to be taking this to a whole new level. Davis could have easily taken advantage of his match-ups with Alex Len and Marvin Bagley III, but the five attempts from three show that he settled for the jumper too much in this game.
Nobody fears the Lakers anymore
The same applies to James, who is also trying to work on his outside game to allow Russ to be Russ when the time comes, but thirteen attempts from beyond-the-arc are certainly not the road to success for LeBron. James was taking tough pull-up threes that we know he can make, but with the lack of defensive prowess on the floor for the Kings, LeBron cannot settle for outside shots because it renders his other teammates non-threats.
"Nobody fears the Lakers. As soon as they get a lead, they have all these antics, that right there is not being professional." - Robert Horry
It comes down to Horry's point above because nobody respects the Lakers' ability as a team to control games. Instead, they fall into the game plan of opposing teams and are lazy on defense, thinking they can turn it on whenever they want and win the game with their talent. Teams as bad as the Kings realize that and know that they can beat the Lakers if they play hard and disciplined. If LeBron James has an off night, teams know they are most likely winning against the Lakers.
For LA, this is no longer a question of chemistry and personnel; it's a question of character. Are their best players going to have the resilience and pride to bring their best effort every night? Even against the bottom-dwellers of the league? Will the supporting cast hold the superstars accountable for their effort and agree to try and play their roles to perfection?
Right now, the Lakers are not respecting their opponents, and in return, their opponents are punking them. DeAaron Fox and Buddy Hield were having their way with the Laker defense the other night, and it was not pretty. So what will happen when it is Steph Curry or Devin Booker that the aging Lakers have to guard? From the front office to the coaching staff to the players, the Lakers need to look in the mirror and ask themselves how bad they want to win because right now, it looks like they are all just going through the motions.
Russ is laughing off the missed free throws down the stretch, AD looks disengaged on offense, and LeBron seems to be trying to do his best Steph Curry impersonation. Everyone is accountable, including Frank Vogel, because it is his job to figure this out and right the ship for his team. It starts with getting his guys to show up and play like a group of professional basketball players.