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Lakers realize their poor free-throw shooting is holding them back

It is a hard truth that stares them in the face every game and is a constant reminder of what the Lakers must overcome if they are to prosper.

They are a bad free-throw shooting team, whose 69.5% shooting from the line ranks the Lakers second-to-last in the NBA in that category.

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The Lakers lost a game to San Antonio this season because of their porous free-throw shooting and just barely escaped with a win over Atlanta despite missing key free throws down the stretch.

“It’s just continue to work on it,” said LeBron James, who missed two free throws with 12.8 seconds left in overtime in a game against the Spurs and two more with 19.9 seconds left in the win over Atlanta.

“We work on it every day. So, I think we’re able to continue to improve more and more times we get up to the free-throw line. It’s about going up there and knocking them down, and that’s from myself all the way to everyone else.”

The Lakers have just one player shooting more than 80% from the free-throw line — Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (87.5%), who has made 14 out of 16 shots.

James was making 74% of his free throws before the Lakers played Portland Wednesday night at Staples Center.

Kyle Kuzma was making 76% of his free throws, Brandon Ingram 70%, JaVale McGee 64%, Josh Hart 70%, Rajon Rondo 50%, Lance Stephenson 78% and Lonzo Ball 62%.

This group is the primary source of offense for the Lakers.

“I have confidence our guys will make more free throws as the season goes on,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said.

Why?

“Because we’re professionals and our guys care about getting better and they care about winning,” he said. “We realize how important making free throws is to winning.”

The Lakers were an equally bad free-throw shooting team last season, shooting 71.4% from the line, last in the league.

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“We started getting better at free throws last season as the year went on,” Walton said. “It’s just stepping up and knocking them through. It’s simple, but we’ll keep getting better at it.”

Stotts remains impressed by Chandler

They were together for just one season in Dallas, but the time Tyson Chandler spent with Terry Stotts when he was an assistant coach on the staff left a big impression on Stotts.

The Mavericks won the NBA championship in the 2010-11 season, and Chandler played a big role with his defense and leadership in the locker room.

Now that Chandler is with the Lakers and has been nothing short of outstanding in his first three games, Stotts, the head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers, was not surprised.

“The enthusiasm,” Stotts said. “He’s a great teammate. He’s doing the dirty work. He’s made big-time plays down the stretch to win games. He does stuff to endear himself to his teammates and fans. And he’s all about winning.”

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