The Los Angeles Lakers let a winnable game slip away Friday night, falling 101-92 after allowing the Toronto Raptors to outscore them 56-41 in the second half while hemorrhaging points in transition.
Lakers Head Coach Luke Walton wasn’t happy with the effort of his starters during that second-half stretch either. Walton benched them in an attempt to send a message that they weren’t getting back on defense as quickly as he would’ve liked.
Rookie point guard Lonzo Ball seemed to agree with his coach’s assessment of the team’s issue when speaking to reporters following the loss via Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters:
Lonzo after loss: “I think we lost our intensity to be honest. It’s a good team over there & they came back the 2nd half strong.”
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) October 28, 2017
Though it is a small sample size, the Lakers are allowing their opponents to score 100.6 points per 100 possessions this season, the 10th-best defensive efficiency in the NBA. They’ve been even better in the second half of games as well, giving up 98.5 points per 100 possessions during the final two periods.
That stat doesn’t mean Walton and Ball are wrong about the team, they did have issues in the second half against the Raptors. But what it does mean is that so far second-half collapses haven’t been the norm for the Lakers, which is a good early sign for a young team. Letting defense lapse in second halves is usually a calling card of youthful NBA rosters who have a hard time continuing to succeed once opponents make halftime adjustments.
It’s clear that Walton, Ball and the rest of the Lakers noticed the problem against Toronto, and they’ll get a chance to try and adjust on the second night of a back-to-back when they take on the Utah Jazz Saturday night.