Column: ‘There’s no excuses for us.’ Lakers’ ineptitude continues, with no letup in sight

Anthony Davis leaps over a Heat player.
The Lakers’ Anthony Davis grabs a loose ball while leaping over the Heat’s Tyler Herro during the fourth quarter Wednesday.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

If this wasn’t rock bottom for the Lakers, if a performance that was atrocious in nearly every significant way wasn’t the worst moment of a season that’s rapidly taking on the sour stench of frustration and the annoying whine of making excuses instead of making shots, it’s difficult to imagine how much worse this can be.

But stick around. The answer could come as soon as Friday, when the now sub-.500 Lakers take a three-game losing streak into a home game against the Memphis Grizzlies, or on Sunday against the hot Clippers.

The Lakers’ stumbles and ineptitude at both ends of the floor were epic in a 110-96 loss to the Miami Heat at Arena on Wednesday. They got off to another slow start. They committed 22 turnovers, which the Heat turned into 22 points. They hit only four of 30 three-point attempts. “Shooting 13%, you’re not going to win those games when you do that,” a subdued Austin Reaves said with as much disgust as accuracy.


The Lakers (17-18) now have lost four of their last five games and nine of 12 since they won the NBA’s in-season tournament. Of their three victories, two were over weak opponents, San Antonio and Charlotte. Only their win at Oklahoma City on Dec. 23 can be considered a quality victory.

The Lakers delivered effort coach Darvin Ham said was required but their poor execution led to a 110-96 loss to Miami at Arena on Wednesday.

Jan. 3, 2024

The sobering part is that during this stretch Anthony Davis (29 points, 17 rebounds, six assists on Wednesday) has been superb. LeBron James, though noticeably off against Miami with a six-for-18 shooting performance and 12 points, has been good — though he took a rare night off from postgame interviews. Reaves, restored to the starting lineup against the Heat, responded with a season-high 24 points and has overall been solid lately. The Lakers aren’t losing because their big guys are playing poorly or are missing due to illness or injury.

They’re losing, not because Gabe Vincent had knee surgery or Rui Hachimura had a facial fracture and more recently a calf strain, or Jarred Vanderbilt has been in and out of the lineup because of injuries. They’re losing because their roster is badly constructed, because Cam Reddish and Taurean Prince remain in the starting lineup despite being offensive liabilities: neither scored a point against Miami, with Reddish playing 18:40 and Prince 28:48.

But coach Darvin Ham, while saying no excuse is acceptable for losing, continued to offer excuses and insist that the lack of consistency in their lineup is a cause of this mess.

“We can’t find any consistency until we get healthy. It’s as simple as that. We’ve got to get healthy,” he said. “And once you get healthy, guys have got to get back in rhythm and we’ve got to find a cohesive unit, a total cohesive rotation that we can go with. You’re dealing with different guys being in and out of the lineup that frequently it’s damned near impossible to find a rhythm. That’s just being real.”

Even Davis didn’t buy that.

“I don’t think it’s a whole thing of who’s starting and who’s not. Everybody is capable of doing what we have to do to win basketball games on both ends of the floor. So the whole lineup thing is an excuse,” he said. “We have high-level-IQ guys who know what they should be doing individually and what we should be doing as a team on both ends of the floor.


“[On Wednesday] they threw a zone in and they just dared us to make shots and we didn’t. Kind of took us out of our thing, but 10 turnovers in the first quarter was kind of a recipe for disaster.”

Not kind of. It was.

“It’s a little bit of everything right now. We’re not executing,” Davis said. “That team played harder than us tonight, executed better than us tonight, more physical than us tonight. We got outworked tonight, so it’s a bit of everything right now. If we keep on this train, it’s not going to be good for us.

“It’s kind of obvious that we have to figure it out sooner than later. Guys being out is no excuse. There’s no excuses for us. Every guy in this locker room is here to win, but we just have to go out and compete.”

And if they don’t, what felt like rock bottom could turn out to be the good old days. Asked after the game if it represented the worst moment of the Lakers’ season, Reaves said he’d likely do the same soul-searching he always does after a loss.

“You replay the game in your mind and think about all of the things you could’ve done better, that we could’ve done better as a collective group. And just think about it,” he said.

“But I wouldn’t say it’s a low point of the season. I think there’s too much time left to sit here and feel sad for ourselves. We gotta figure it out. That’s the main thing. Sitting here feeling sad for ourselves isn’t gonna be the culprit to us figuring it out. We have to, like I said, figure it out. Step up and look in the mirror. If it’s you, that you can do something better, or you can speak to your teammates to do something better, then do that. But I wouldn’t call it a low moment.”


Then call it another big stumble in a season full of potholes that excuses can’t fill.