Christmas day is close, which means that the NBA season is about to reach a new rhythm.
At a record at 24-5, the Lakers are facing their first losing streak of the season after dropping back to back games at Indiana and Milwaukee.
What should we make of this situation? Let’s not overreact. The Lakers aren’t suddenly terrible and need trade half the roster. But these games exposed some weaknesses that the previous schedule hide.
The Lakers snapped a 14 game winning streak away from home. Superstar Anthony Davis didn’t play because of an ankle injury, but the game was still winnable for Los Angeles. They had the ball with 10 seconds left, but LeBron James never touched the ball and Rajon Rondo missed the game-tying shot.
What killed the team where to things: Threes and free throws. The team shot only 47% from the free-throw line, something unacceptable. Also, the Lakers missed 23 threes and shot only 26%. They need to step it up on those categories.
Against the Bucks, the bench scored only three points. That’s unacceptable. Bradley, Caruso, Rondo, Dudley, Howard, and Daniels played a combined 74 minutes, and only managed to score 4 points in total. Gladly, this problem has a solution inside the organization.
Kyle Kuzma has been hurt, but he can definitively provide scoring off the bench, even though he hasn’t been quite himself this year. If the Lakers need more shooting they have Quinn Cook, who shoots 41% from three for his career. He didn’t play against the Pacers nor Bucks. They also have Troy Daniels, who shot 39% from three last year, but he hasn’t been used much this season.
In these games, where the Lakers lost outside the Staples Center for the first time this season, there was a common factor that affected the team: Inconsistent scoring.
Frank Vogel will need to develop an effective offensive scheme for the team to overcome these problems.
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