Things could be going much better in Los Angeles.
After suffering an 18-point home loss to the Bulls, the Lakers have fallen to 8-7 on the season and remain incredibly difficult to gauge. Just as they’ve found impressive ways to win this season, they’ve found even more confounding ways to lose.
MORE: How long is LeBron out?
To be fair, it’s hard to truly assess a team that has been without its best player for two-thirds of its first 15 games, but LeBron James’ injury has peeled back the layer on issues that his return might not necessarily be able to fix.
It begins up top with Anthony Davis.
Finally healthy after battling through injury last postseason, Davis is again putting up Davis-like numbers with averages of 24.2 points and 10.9 rebounds per contest, but it feels like something is missing. In Monday’s loss to a Bulls team that started Alex Caruso at power forward, Davis attempted just four shots in the first half to enter the break with seven points.
His frustrations came to a head as he was ejected in the third quarter, picking up his second technical of the game in a weird situation in which he struggled to get his shoe back on.
This strange sequence of events only begins to highlight the issues facing this Lakers team.
Third quarter woes
Note that at the time of Davis’ ejection, the Lakers were down 86-66, which is noteworthy given the fact that the team entered the half down by nine.
Thus continues a trend of poor third-quarter showings from the Lakers, which Davis sounded off on following a blowout loss to the Timberwolves.
Per Alex Kennedy of Basketball News, the Lakers have now been outscored in the third quarter of nine of their first 15 games and six times by double digits.
With respect to the third-quarter showing that drew Davis’ ire, the Lakers were outscored 40-12 by the Timberwolves, who are looking like a Play-In team at best. Those types of performances won’t cut it for a team that has real championship aspirations.
Is it the halftime speech? Probably not. But it’s also an overarching issue that will take more than James’ return to fix.
The road gets tougher
If it feels like the Lakers are at the Staples Center each time you tune in to watch them play, it’s because they pretty much have been.
To open the season, the Lakers have played 12 of their first 15 games at home, something they haven’t really taken much advantage of, posting a 7-5 home record to start. As things naturally balance out, the Lakers are now headed East for a five-game road trip, beginning with the defending champions.
|Date||Opponent||Time (ET)||National TV|
|Wed, Nov. 17||at Bucks||7:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Fri, Nov. 19||at Celtics||7:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sun, Nov. 21||at Pistons||6:00 p.m.||–|
|Tue, Nov. 23||at Knicks||7:30 p.m.||TNT|
|Wed, Nov. 24||at Pacers||7:00 p.m.||–|
Up to this point, it’s hard to evaluate the Lakers as a road team as they’ve only played three road games up to this point. Their record? 1-2, with losses coming to the rebuilding Thunder and a Trail Blazers team that only got seven points (on 3-for-15 shooting) from CJ McCollum.
Perhaps a lengthy road trip is what the Lakers need to unify and fix some overarching issues, but as they face three teams that qualified for the playoffs last year, it won’t be easy.
Will LeBron make things better? Absolutely. But it’s a bit much to expect him to come back from injury and immediately fix everything.