Here are three things to take away from the Lakers’ 124-122 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night at Staples Center:
1. Close but not close enough
Moral victories don’t really exist in the NBA, but when you consider the Lakers’ plan for roster building in the post Kobe Bryant era, smaller victories matter.
Take Friday night for instance, when a team with nothing to play for, the Lakers, rallied from 20 points down with 14 minutes left in the game, thanks to a lineup with end-of-the-bench players battling against the core of a playoff team. The Lakers more than held their own, which shows just how close this team can be when they’re playing the right way.
Julius Randle continued to be aggressive, even though he struggled with the Bucks’ defensive length on the interior. Kyle Kuzma was productive and Brook Lopez was a big factor early.
It was a good performance — but it wasn’t good enough.
2. Ingram’s best-case scenario
If you want to imagine the best for Brandon Ingram, it involves him affecting the game in some ways similar to Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Trouble is, when you see the two players on the court at the same time, the differences become clear.
Ingram is a better natural shooter, but he might not ever be as strong as Antetokounmpo, and he’ll almost certainly never be as athletic as the “Greek Freak.”
Ingram, like Antetokounmpo, is a terrific playmaker and ball handler who can create mismatches and finish from weird angles in the paint, but maybe, the comparisons should end there.
3. Luke Walton goes fine-hunting
In the aftermath of the Lakers’ overtime loss, Luke Walton showed off a veteran move, using the first question to go on the hunt for a fine from the NBA for criticizing officials.
“I learned some new things myself tonight. I was told the reason, when KCP got hit across the face, it wasn’t a foul because it was unintentional. And, if the player didn’t mean to hit the guy in the face, then it’s not a foul. That was good to learn,” Walton said. “I was also told that if the referee feels that the offensive player is trying to dunk the ball, that the defensive player is allowed to hit the rim and it’s not goaltending. So, that was good to know that rule as well.”
It’s a savvy move to use the postgame news conference to protect your players, in this case Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
The officials weren’t why the Lakers lost on Friday, but Walton wanted to make sure to get in the last word.