The Los Angeles Lakers just suffered the fourth-worst defeat in franchise history. Their 44-point blowout against the Philadelphia 76ers was the worst loss in 290 head-to-head matchups, as well as the largest deficit in LeBron James‘ 21-year NBA career.
Needless to say, the loss spoiled one of James’ many milestone days. He became the league’s all-time leader in total minutes played (66,319), passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in that regard.
The legendary forward was evidently livid after the game. He barely talked to the media and didn’t want to get into details when asked about the tweaks his team needed to do to get over this hump. When asked about that, he simply stated that a lot needs to change:
“What needs to change in order for that not to happen again?” James said. “A lot. Just got to play better. (…) I don’t know how a team (should respond),” James continued. “I can only speak for myself. I don’t like it.”
Ham Blames ‘Unfortunate Circumstances’
The Sixers have been one of the best teams in the league this season, so there should be no shame in a cross-conference road loss against a team of their caliber. However, the Lakers simply couldn’t match up their intensity on either side of the floor, and that’s a worrisome trend for coach Darvin Ham:
“Your competitive spirit has to be at a high level,” Ham said. “It almost has to be bulletproof to a certain degree. You have to meet force with force. They outhustled us. When you’re in a fight, you can never stop throwing punches. You gotta let your hands go. You gotta keep swinging.”
Granted that the Lakers are dealing with some injuries. Gabe Vincent, Jarred Vanderbilt, Rui Hachimura, and Cam Reddish are all key pieces of their rotation out with ailments. Even so, they were supposed to be a deep team, yet the guys they have on the floor aren’t responding:
“We’re dealing with some unfortunate circumstances that’s beyond anyone’s control,” Ham said. “But at the same time, once the games start, whoever we have in uniform, we have to come out and continuously swing and play with force on both sides of the ball. That’s it in a nutshell. It’s not rocket science.”
Lakers Can’t Beat Good Teams
Coach Ham sent Austin Reaves to the bench in favor of Cam Reddish, looking to get the first out of his slump and make the most of the latter’s athleticism. That hasn’t worked out thus far, and this team could use more shooting right now.
Losses happen, and good teams rarely lose at home. But the Lakers haven’t fared well against elite competition thus far. The Sixers and Orlando Magic — both sitting on a 12-5 record — are the two best teams they’ve faced, record-wise, and they haven’t been able to beat them.
The Lakers are 5-8 against .500+ teams and 5-0 against teams below .500 through the first 18 games of the season. Needless to say, that’s not going to get the job done in the postseason.
Darvin Ham’s team has the ninth-worst net rating in the league (-1.8). They also have the tenth-worst scoring offense (111.8 PPG) and are 17th in scoring defense (113.7). They also rank 28th out of 30 in three-point percentage (33.8%) and last in three-pointers made, all while being 22nd in turnovers per game (15.2), 29th in offensive rebounds (8.2), and 23rd in free-throw percentage (76.2%).
It’s still early in the season, and the Lakers have an active front office always looking to make moves. They could — and should — target three-point shooters, and with Zach LaVine reportedly about to become available, it wouldn’t be shocking to see them making a run at the Chicago Bulls star.
SURVEY Can the Lakers turn things around?
Can the Lakers turn things around?
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