The Los Angeles Lakers suffered an embarrassing 137-101 loss to the Phoenix Suns Wednesday night in a game that was so bad on every level that it should shake the franchise to its very core.
With only 24 games remaining in the season, and with the players looking like they are already on vacation, fans need not worry about whether the Lakers will get to keep their top-three protected draft choice this summer.
Here are the three biggest takeaways from the latest loss:
1. Laker Players Seemingly Have No Pride
From the opening tip-off, Laker players looked as though they were disinterested in the game. They had eight turnovers and trailed by 22 points in the first quarter alone. Phoenix averages the lowest assists per game in the league but had a whopping 30 assists against the Lakers, who simply did not hustle. The Suns had an astounding 41 fast break points and scored 60 points in the paint.
The effort was so poor and unprofessional by the Lakers that It raised a legitimate question about the team’s direction and whether the players have any pride at all. The Phoenix Suns are a bad team, entering the game with only 17 wins all season. Yet they fought and hustled for 48 minutes on both ends of the court while the Laker players looked as though their mind was on whatever vacation they have planned for the All-Star break.
2. The Coaching Staff Seems Incapable Of Getting The Team To Play Hard
Luke Walton was anointed the savior of the franchise last summer when he ignored his father’s advice and took the head coaching gig for a team that had reached rock bottom. He is a likable guy who exudes youthful promise and enthusiasm, and given the dysfunction in the front office and the lack of talent on the court, he may be the only thing about the Lakers that fans can believe in.
But this deep into his first season as head coach, it is time to admit that whatever he has tried to sell, his players are not buying. He preaches defense, but they play none. He reminds them that even if their shots are not falling, they can make up for it with their hustle, yet they routinely play as though they are sleepy. He reminds them to protect the ball, but they make one sloppy pass after another.
Over the All-Star break, he needs to take a serious look at the roster and figure out who wants to play hard and who is just going through the motions.
3. It May Be Time To Question Whether The Young Core Is Overrated
Whenever the Lakers’ young core does not play well, the excuse is always that the players are so young and inexperienced that it is inevitable for them to be inconsistent and struggle a lot. Yet, watching 20-year-old Devin Booker and 19-year-old Marquese Chriss “bring it” for the Suns, it is hard not to question this theory. The same can be said for watching 21-year-old Nicola Jokic, 21-year-old Andrew Wiggins, 21-year-old Karl-Anthony Towns, 21-year-old Kristaps Porzingis, and 22-year-old Joel Embiid.
These players are already on the verge of stardom, despite their age and inexperience. They make mistakes but they play with confidence, and they are locked in all the time. None of the players on the Lakers’ squad resemble any these other young players.
It is often said that the Lakers have drafted the past few years brilliantly, but watching the young core look totally overwhelmed against the lowly Suns was a painful reminder that no one on the Lakers is showing much potential at the moment.