The message sounded all too familiar on Tuesday night, when Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton addressed reporters after dropping their eighth straight game. This time the messenger was different, and the delivery somewhat softer, but the word choice was very much the same.
“We still haven’t truly figured out how to make teams uncomfortable,” Walton said. “I think teams feel like when they play us right now, that we’re kind of a soft team, that they can come in and get their offensive numbers against us.”
“It’s got to be up to us to change that and the only way to do that, is to do it out there on the court. I think we’re taking steps in that direction. I think our guys want to get there and I think they are learning how to get there, we’re just not there yet.”
Walton didn’t say anything that some of his players weren’t already thinking, even rookie Brandon Ingram essentially echoed Walton’s sentiments.
“(Opponents) come in, feel comfortable, like they’re going to get everything they want every single night,” Ingram said. “But, it’s up to us to change it, myself, my teammates to change. We want to have a different identity on the basketball court, of course it comes with time, but we just have to change our mentality.”
“We have a bullseye on our back and rightfully so,” said Larry Nance Jr. “We’ve been playing down [to our opponents], so any team that’s looking to get a rhythm, seeing us on their schedule is a bullseye, and I personally, I hate it, we all should, but that’s what we’re working towards erasing.”
“It pisses me off, cause we’re not soft,” Julius Randle said. “But, we’re not the aggressor, when we’re the aggressive team, we give ourselves a chance to win and the soft stuff is out the window. When we’re not the aggressor, then teams have confidence, players have confidence.”
“We’re not winning, it’s easy to be viewed, however you want to be viewed,” D’Angelo Russell said.
The numbers will back up Walton’s point about opponents getting their offensive numbers against the Lakers. Opponents shoot an adjusted field goal percentage of 53.6% against the Lakers (the worst in the NBA), while the Lakers also give up 110.8 points, the 4th worst in the NBA.
So what needs to change?
Randle said it’s all about mindset, something that D’Angelo Russell also preached after their loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, two games back.
Ingram suggested it’s about finding an identity.
“I don’t think we have an identity yet,” Ingram said. “I think it’s different each and every game….but we’ve just got to find an identity every single night, be consistent day in and day out.”
“At some point I think we’re going to get tired of it, being in this position, but we are learning each and everyday.”