Five things to take away from the Lakers’ 101-95 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday night at Staples Center:
1. It was the worst loss of the season for the Lakers, plain and simple.
It was unimaginable to see the Lakers drop a game to the hapless Cavaliers, a team that entered the game having lost 12 in a row, a team that still has the worst record in the NBA at 9-35.
The Lakers all talked about being frustrated.
But frustrated about what? Their effort? Their inability to make shots? Their constant isolation plays? Their unwillingness to pass, to move and to cut?
For the Lakers to trail by 15 points in the first quarter to the Cavaliers was unbelievable. The Cavaliers were coming off a 28-point beat-down at Houston.
Whether or not LeBron James is out because of a sprained left groin or Rajon Rondo is out recovering from surgery on his right ring finger, the Lakers know they must play more inspired basketball.
“We got to hang our heads high no matter what,” Kyle Kuzma said after the game. “At the end of the day, it all starts with effort. I keep saying it and it was clear tonight. But for us, that’s what it is.
“Obviously you’re not going to make every single shot. That’s impossible. But we just have to continue to play hard, get in the gym tomorrow and keep working and be confident that our work ethic is going to translate to the court.”
The Lakers are 3-7 without James and Rondo, falling into a tie with the Utah Jazz for eighth place, and final playoff spot, in the Western Conference.
2. Why were the Lakers just tossing up errant three-pointer after errant three-pointer after errant three-pointer?
Their best three-point shooters — Kuzma, Josh Hart, Lonzo Ball and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope — were a combined five of 29 from long range.
As a team, the Lakers shot only 20.6% (seven for 34) from three-point range.
Kuzma started off missing five three-pointers and finished two for seven. Ball was two for eight and Hart one for eight while Caldwell-Pope missed all six he attempted.
The Lakers are one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the NBA, their 33.5% shooting ranking 27th.
Yet they still just jacked up all those three-pointers against the Cavaliers.
3. Ball was approaching a triple-double after three quarters with 13 points, seven assists and seven rebounds, but he didn’t get one.
Ball was aggressive in all phases of the game through three quarters. But that all changed in the fourth.
He wound up with just one more rebound and one more assist in the fourth. He took just one shot and that was a three-pointer.
The Lakers need Ball to be more aggressive and attack for the team to be successful.
4. The Lakers had just 21 assists on 36 made field goals, a sign of them not only just missing shots but of their unwillingness to share the basketball.
5. If there was one positive for the Lakers it was that they turned the ball over only 11 times.