After giving up the most points in the first quarter (48) in franchise history to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday, the Lakers responded by scoring their fewest points in a quarter in franchise history (12) vs. the Toronto Raptors at home on Monday.
The Purple and Gold have been outscored by a combined 81-34 (47-point-gap) in their last two first quarters. If that is not cruelty, then what is?
Perhaps another type of cruelty for the Lakers is that they brutally shot 0-for-13 from the three-point area in the first quarter on Monday night, which are the most attempts from three without any made basket in a first-quarter by any team in NBA history. L.A. was down (33-12) as early as the first period.
The Lakers' struggle to score early in the game was a big reason why they were eaten alive by the Raptors (114-103).
Despite their comeback attempt in the fourth quarter, L.A. couldn't get over the hump as they tried to play catchup all game long. The Lakers always seem to find themselves trailing by a substantial deficit early in the game that, at this point, even Russell Westbrook and Talen Horton-Tucker don't know what to do about it anymore.
"I'm not sure. I don't have an answer for you on that one," Westbrook, who put up 14 points, eight rebounds, and four assists, said.
"I really don't know," Horton-Tucker, who looked defeated post-game, said just a few minutes after Westbrook.
The Lakers need to know what they truly want.
Westbrook and Horton-Tucker's statements summarized how the Lakers have been handling the season all year. The team doesn't know how to be consistent. In some games, they come out as if they're ready to flip their season around, but they look demotivated, lost, and defeated in most games.
Their often lackluster effort is evident in turnovers, missed rebounds, and loose balls they continue to give up every game. Sunday's game against the Suns and Monday's versus the Raptors were no exception to this.
However, according to head coach Frank Vogel, the Lakers are not letting go of the rope just yet. Their spirited comeback attempt may have failed once again (a reoccurring theme this season), but Vogel still believes that the team is not giving up on this season just yet.
On the right side of history
As expected, the Lakers' leading scorer on Monday night was LeBron James, who had 30 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists on the second night of a back-to-back. James, who is anticipated to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the league's All-Time Scoring list, is just 75 points away from surpassing Karl Malone for second place on the same list.
The Lakers will be on the road in the next few games, specifically against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards, and Cleveland Cavaliers. If James keeps up with his current scoring average of the season (29.7), then there's a good chance he passes Malone in three games.
At this point, James' current chase to be the greatest scorer of all time is the only bright spot for Lakers fans and their team this season. Hopefully, James gives them more reasons to smile about as the Lakers play their last 14 games of the season. The question is, what will be the cost of these heavy minutes? Hopefully, not one expressed in minutes missed due to injury.