Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
The Lakers went down big early in the game and then fought back. This time it was against the Boston Celtics and while they made up a lot of the difference, they couldn’t quite get there.
This 107-96 win over the Lakers was Boston’s 10th in a row. Even shorthanded as they are now, they are a very good team and provided some lessons for the Lakers.
Here are five takeaways from the game.
1. To fix his jumper, Lonzo Ball has been working on his balance. This came up after the game when Ball was asked whether he’s working on his footwork while shooting. Ball said balance was something the coaching staff has been working with him on. The Lakers have made clear they aren’t interested in altering Ball’s shooting motion, at least not during the season, but now we know they are working on some mechanics to help his shooting. Ball made four of 15 shots last night and one of five three-pointers.
2. Julius Randle made a very positive impact for the Lakers when he entered the game. That was later than it normally is, because Lakers Coach Luke Walton wanted to get Andrew Bogut into the game in the first quarter to fight against some early physicality the Celtics were throwing at the Lakers. Randle was a big part of why the Lakers were able to claw back from their 21-point deficit. He went 5-of-9 and scored 16 points in 21:28.
3. Walton was upset with the Lakers’ help side defense. “It wasn’t our individual defense that was terrible tonight, it was our team defense,” Walton said. “The work that we’ve been doing and with the help side and the mentality we’ve been building, all of that went out the door today. It was ... We were late to every rotation. There were passes we saw from the bench, we switched, they fronted, they threw it over the top, and we didn’t react until the guy already caught the ball. When you’re slow reacting like that against a good team it’s not a good thing.” Brandon Ingram’s response to Walton’s criticism? “That wasn’t us.”
4. Brook Lopez’s minutes went down as the Lakers tried to go small. For two games he had been shooting exceptionally well from three and on Wednesday night he missed all four threes he attempted. Lopez only played 18 minutes and had 10 points with four rebounds, two blocked shots, three turnovers and one assist.
5. Ball had a lot to deal with Wednesday night both on and off the court. He revealed a little bit about his concern over his brother’s situation after the game, saying, “It’s still my little brother, but I’ve got to come out here and play.” On the court, he faced Kyrie Irving, a handful for anyone to defend, and boos from the Celtics crowd. It didn’t seem to bother Ball, and his teammates noticed. “That’s something that comes with being a No. 2 pick, something that comes with being Lonzo Ball,” Ingram said. “He does a good job of blocking it out every time he steps out on the basketball court. He doesn’t worry about that. He’s playing within our team and our organization.”
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli