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Lakers break down what went wrong in loss to Clippers

Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) and Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) battle for a rebound during the season-opening game Tuesday.
Lakers forward Anthony Davis and Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard battle for a rebound during the season-opening game Tuesday.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

In the postgame locker room Tuesday night, Anthony Davis and LeBron James were sitting a few feet apart at their respective lockers finishing up a conversation as reporters trickled into the room.

James, holding a printed box score, noted the 25 points the Clippers scored off Lakers turnovers.

“And fastbreak. They had 22, right?” Davis said.

“Twenty-two, we had five,” James said. “That’s it right there.”

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That was only the beginning of the Lakers’ dissection of Tuesday’s season-opening loss. The Clippers beat them 112-102, and the Lakers spent the next day of practice reviewing what happened, without overreacting to it, while figuring out how to improve what didn’t work.

“We looked at both ends of the ball, and there’s a thousand little execution pieces that we tried to clean up from post spacing to not running enough offensively, more second action, more side-to-side movement,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “… We’re not focused on the result each game as much as the process and building and tightening things up and all the little habits we know we need to win.”

Vogel seemed most disappointed with the Lakers’ second quarter — especially defensively — on Tuesday night. A day removed, he acknowledged that the Clippers made some tough shots despite the Lakers’ defensive efforts. That was particularly true of Kawhi Leonard, who made 10 of 19 shots — only one of them a three-pointer.

Offensively, the Lakers struggled to shoot the ball well, making only 43.5% of their shots, and the ball movement wasn’t what they wanted with only 20 assists.

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Vogel said the plan was to run more pick-and-roll plays, but the Lakers struggled to account for the Clippers’ defensive switching. It’s part of why their ball movement stagnated at times.

“It’s one of those things where the ball can stop moving at times, but you have to be smart,” Lakers guard Avery Bradley said. “It’s a guy’s job off the ball to make sure they continue to move and create space for those switches so we can attack that. And sometimes we need to continue to keep the ball movement. … Those are all things that we need to continue to learn, and it’s gonna take some time, but I feel like everyone’s dedicated to making those adjustments so we can be the best team we can be.”

After the game, James was quick to correct a reporter who asked about the “issues” defensively that appeared in the Lakers opener.

“There are issues?” James said Tuesday night. “You don’t have issues after one game.”

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It might have felt like more than just one game, having ushered a new star-studded era in Los Angeles basketball. Several players noted the playoff-type atmosphere. Pundits saw it as a potential conference finals matchup.

But in their Wednesday activities, the Lakers worked to treat it like just one of 82 games.

Injury update

Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma missed the start of the season because of a stress reaction in his left foot. He suffered the injury during his stint with Team USA this summer. Kuzma won’t play Friday, but he was spotted Wednesday doing some unopposed scrimmage work.

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The Lakers on Tuesday were without point guard Rajon Rondo, who was a game-time decision. Vogel was noncommittal on whether Rondo would play Friday against the Utah Jazz. Rondo is dealing with a sore calf, but did some on-court work after practice on Wednesday.

Elsewhere among the Lakers’ guards, other injuries hampered their rotation. Alex Caruso was still recovering from a bruised pelvis and Quinn Cook was on a minutes restriction because of a sore calf. Cook played 17 minutes and scored four points with two assists and a rebound.


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