The final score didn’t reflect it, but Kyle Kuzma and the Los Angeles Lakers were actually competitive in the first quarter of their 133-96 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, going up 10-0 to start the game and ending the period tied 26-26.
After that? Things went off the rails.
“We just really gave up. They took a little lead and we just were being selfish on the floor. We didn’t compete on defense and they killed us. Flat out. Losing by 40, there is no in-between,” Kuzma said.
“We gave up. You could see. They got basket after basket. We had no resistance on the defensive end, and on the offensive end when things got tough we tried to do it individually and we can’t do that in this league.”
The Lakers especially aren’t good enough to do that. After their loss to the Thunder, the Lakers are 11-26, the worst record in the Western Conference and the second-worst record in the entire league behind on the Atlanta Hawks (10-27).
For a team that had fancied itself a contender for a playoff spot earlier this season when they started 5-5, the Lakers decent has been steep. They’ve dropped 11 of the last 12, including the last eight games straight; the last six of which have been by double-digits.
A big factor in that drop-off has been the Lakers’ defensive regression. The team was ranked eighth in defensive efficiency heading into December, but has since dropped to 15th, giving up 106 points per 100 possessions on the season.
The Lakers have been even worse than that in December, with the 109.8 points per 100 possessions they’ve hemorrhaged ranking 27th in the league, something Kuzma cited as the main problem against the Thunder.
“We didn’t put no resistance, period,” he said. “It’s all about effort and having effort and wanting to be on the floor and give it your all. Losing by 40, it’s pretty embarrassing to be out there.”
WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DISCUSSION? CHECK OUT THE NEW LAKERS NATION FORUM CLUB