NBA Hoops

Three observations from the Los Angeles Lakers’ loss to the Clippers

Three observations from the Los Angeles Lakers’ loss to the Clippers

The Lakers, mostly by the will of James, tried to shoot their way back into this game in the final 12 minutes, even cutting the deficit to 10 points with more than half the quarter to play.

But, there’s no staging a comeback without stringing together stops on defense. And that by and large did not happen while the Lakers were shooting the ball well. Simply put, that James could amass the stat line he did and not commit any turnovers and the team still be minus-14 with him on the court says a lot about the players on the roster not named LeBron James.

On a deeper level, the Lakers’ roster showed it’s essentially one big over-correction after another. Patrick Beverley was on the court with James to try to help make opposing stars uncomfortable, mitigate dribble penetration and be active in the passing lanes. Yet, his teammates throw the ball his way and, more often than not, it’s just a hollow few seconds of dribbling before James rescues him from doing something disastrous.

Thomas Bryant was on the court during the Lakers’ run, as well. The Clippers weren’t perturbed, bringing his defensive assignment into the pick-and-roll and taking advantage of him at various levels of a drop coverage. Whether it’s late contests on jumpers after playing at the level on screens or being out of position or flimsy at the rim on deep drops, the Clippers scored at will.

But, Bryant can pop out of ball screens and knock down the three or dive to the cup for thunderous dunks.

This game was a microcosm of the Lakers’ biggest problem — they have a superstar, a star-level player when he’s healthy, and 13 NBA contracts for players who cover up problems on one end of the floor at the expense of providing value on the other end.

They might beat the dreck of the league on a night-to-night basis and sneak some wins past the NBA’s better teams, but they’re not beating anyone consistently at a high level with that roster construction.

The Lakers (22-26) will host the San Antonio Spurs (14-33) on Wednesday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., Pacific time. You can catch the game on Spectrum SportsNet.

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