No change of direction for Coach Luke Walton after a ‘special’ Los Angeles Lakers loss

Lakers guard Louis Williams (23) sits on the the bench during a timeout as the Lakers play the Mavericks during the second half on Jan. 22.
(Ron Jenkins / Associated Press)

The word “special” doesn’t have to be a positive term. It can simply mean unusual, notable or unique.

It was a word Lakers Coach Luke Walton chose, wryly, on Monday to describe the worst loss in franchise history.

“Halfway through the third when it looked like we still hadn’t found our energy and we were missing those shots still,” Walton said, “I knew we were in for a special one.”

Monday tasked the Lakers (16-32) with moving on from perhaps the lowest point in their history. Against the Dallas Mavericks, one of the NBA’s worst teams but one that had already defeated them twice this season, they suffered a 49-point defeat. Only five times this season have NBA teams lost by 40 or more points, and three of the blowout losses were suffered by the Lakers.


“I think it’s important now when times are tough that we keep consistency,” Walton said. “I don’t think it makes a lot of sense to change everything we’ve been doing all year when we’re struggling with wins when we’re in a process of getting a young team to the next level. ...

“I think we’ve gotten through to our team. I think they’ve bought in. We’re not going to change what we’re doing.”

Before Sunday, ’the Lakers’ worst losses were two 48-point defeats: in March 2014 and March 2016.

It wasn’t always this way. Historically, the Lakers have not been a team to get blown out so dramatically. Only four times before the 2013-14 season had the Lakers lost by 40 or more points. In the last three seasons, it has happened six times.

“Bothers me a lot,” Lakers rookie Brandon Ingram said. “When you look on paper, I think I was minus-45, which is out of character for myself. I think I played a big part of that. We don’t need to have any more games like that. There’s going to be nights like that but shouldn’t be nights when we don’t compete. I don’t think I competed at a level I could have and I don’t think we competed at that level.”

Basketball is a game of runs, which gave Walton a little hope at halftime that Sunday’s game wouldn’t turn into such a debacle. Sure, the Lakers trailed by 34 points, but Walton’s experience in the NBA taught him that it didn’t have to end that way.

“At some point,” he said, “the other team they kind of get complacent and the team that’s losing gets [ticked] off.”

Lakers forward Julius Randle noted the 34-point halftime deficit when asked why there was no run to close the gap in the third quarter.


“You can make a run,” he said, “but it’s kind of hard to dig yourself out of that hole.”

Walton, though, remained publicly positive, insisting that he knew this team was better than it showed and would get to where it needed to go.

He was asked if he felt disrespected.

“It’s not about me or any coach on my staff,” Walton said. “We don’t ... I don’t feel disrespected. I feel angry that I know we’re better than this. I know the work our guys are putting in, they should expect and deserve better results than that. I also understand you really have to learn how to play every single night. I understand as a team when we have some success, we relax. That’s our natural state.”


Russell’s injuries

Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell put up shots off to the side of practice while his teammates finished up Monday. His right leg was wrapped in ice from his knee down to his ankle.

Though an MRI showed that Russell is recovering from an MCL sprain, a calf strain and bone bruise in his right leg, Russell said he only feels pain in his calf.

“That’s the only thing that’s really bothering me,” he said. “I’m glad it’s not my knee. I don’t really feel any pain in my knee.”


The Lakers said Russell is expected to be sidelined for one to two weeks. He will be re-evaluated after a week. He initially suffered the injuries on Friday against the Indiana Pacers.

Twitter: @taniaganguli