Five takeaways from the Lakers’ 128-125 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans
Before the Lakers’ game Thursday in New Orleans, Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said he thought all the concern about the Pelicans playing their third game in three days was overblown.
It was assumed he would rest some of his players for at least one of those games, especially All-Star forward Anthony Davis. But Davis played 36 minutes and 34 seconds. From Tuesday to Thursday, he played more than 100 minutes and scored 98 points.
Davis was one of a few problems for the Lakers. Here are five takeaways from the Lakers’ 128-125 loss to the Pelicans.
1. Nobody played much defense, something that angers Luke Walton because defense is a more controllable part of the game than offense. If your shots don’t fall one night, that could be for myriad reasons. The Lakers have shown they are capable of being at least a decent defensive team, even without Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart, but they were not on Thursday night.
2. Where it hurt them the most was in the paint. The Lakers were outscored 80-48 inside. “That’s insane,” Walton said. “To a team that’s played three straight nights, to a team that was missing jump shots because their legs were tired. And we let them get 80 points in our paint.”
3. The Lakers worked hard after the game to protect Lonzo Ball’s confidence. Ball has shot well at times this season, but for the last seven games he has not. He might become a more consistent shooter as his NBA career goes on, but it will be more difficult if his confidence gets crushed in his first year. To that end, teammates were working to keep his spirits up after the game. Walton said he didn’t have a problem with Ball’s shots. “I want a point guard that’s got the courage to step up and take those, even after missing a few,” Walton said. “None of those were forced, they were open threes in rhythm. We believe in what he’s going to do for us and our future .… We saw at the end of the San Antonio game, he won that game by hitting three straight threes. So he’s very capable of doing it, and he’s not a selfish player but ... I’m happy that he continued to show the courage that it takes to succeed in this league.”
4. Like any player would, Ball has spent some time reviewing film of his misses over the past several games — he’s made only seven of his last 48 three-point attempts — and said he learned something. “Some of the time I’m not leaving my hand up, [I] need to leave my hand up more,” Ball said of is follow through. “But shots I’ve been hitting my whole life, like I said, they’re just not going in right now.”
5. Isaiah Thomas was asked Thursday night about Rajon Rondo and didn’t say much. When these teams played in February, Rondo did a lot of trash talking toward Thomas, bringing up the tribute video Thomas was scheduled to get during a return trip to Boston that Rondo didn’t feel he deserved. The word from inside the Pelicans locker room was that players thought Rondo seemed extra motivated on Thursday night. He did score twice late in the fourth quarter to give the Pelicans their first lead since midway through the third quarter.
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli
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