Luke Walton’s Los Angeles Lakers found themselves in a dog fight on Friday night against one of the NBA’s top defensive teams, the Utah Jazz. Even though they did not back down and fought all game long, the Lakers still fell short, 96-89.
Even though the Lakers had a lot of things working against them, they still had a chance to win the game in the end, trailing by only two points with 4:22 remaining. They also had a chance to make it a one point game with under a minute remaining, but a D’Angelo Russell three-pointer just rimmed out.
There were certainly some positives to take away from the loss for the Lakers, but Walton believes his young team has to learn to go out and take these road games via Lakers Nation’s Ryan Ward:
Luke: “On the road you have to learn, when you’re in a road gm when you have the opp to take it, you have to go take it.” (via @SpectrumSN)
— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) October 29, 2016
It is generally a rule of thumb that young players tend to play better at home than on the road and that was certainly the case for the Lakers. After combining for 63 points on 24-39 shooting in the season opener, Russell, Jordan Clarkson, and Julius Randle combined for only 20 points on 8-30 shooting in Utah.
Luckily for Walton, the Lakers veterans were there to pick up the slack as Lou Williams led the team with 17 points and six assists, Luol Deng had a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds, and Nick Young poured in 13 points. It simply wasn’t enough to carry the Lakers to a victory.
As they gain more experience, Walton will be able to rely more on his young guys on the road. It is difficult to win games when everyone and everything seems to be against you. The Lakers have some veterans who can help out, but until that young core learns to take these games on the road like Walton wants, outcomes like this will become regular.