The Los Angeles Lakers suffered their sixth straight defeat Friday night, a humbling loss to the Boston Celtics 115-95. The Celtics swept the season series with the Lakers for the first time in a decade. They are the second seed in the Eastern Conference and hot on the heels of the Cleveland Cavaliers, while the Lakers look more and more like they will end the season in the cellar of the Western Conference.
For the purple and gold, it was the same old story, no defense and no firepower. This was another game that was over by halftime as the Celtics scored 70 first half points while cruising to a 25 point lead. They scored effortlessly in the lane and from long distance. The Lakers, meanwhile, had trouble putting the ball in the basket.
Here are the three biggest takeaways from the loss to the Celtics.
1. Jordan Clarkson Played Well but Only For One Quarter
Clarkson was miserable in the first half, missing all seven of his shots and scoring no points. However, he turned it around in the third quarter when he scored seven baskets and an astounding 20 points, which helped cut what was a 31 point deficit to 13 points. However, it turned right around again as he did not score at all in the fourth quarter.
Clarkson’s play was typical of his season. He was great for one quarter but could not sustain it for 48 minutes, or even an entire half. D’Angelo Russell played in a similar manner, starting the game 4-4 from the field and finishing the first quarter with nine points. He did not score again until the third quarter when he made one basket, but stepped up again in the fourth and finished with 17 points on 7-12 shooting from the field.
The Lakers have a number of players who can look very good in spurts, but no one is able to sustain the effort or the results. Until that happens, this team won’t win many games.
2. Brandon Ingram Took A Big Step Back
Brandon Ingram recently scored a season high 22 points on 10-15 shooting, but instead of building on that performance, he took a giant step backwards. Against the Celtics he did not even take a shot until four minutes remained in the fourth quarter and finished with only two shots and no points.
In addition, he was exploited on defense and had three turnovers and five personal fouls. It is disappointing that Ingram, after playing so much this season, has not shown much tangible improvement. To date, he has not looked the part of a second overall pick, but Ingram was always going to be a project and it is clear he still has a long ways to go.
3. The Lakers Do Not have Shooters To Compete With Good Teams
Every time the Lakers play it seems to rain three point shots, but unfortunately, those shots are falling for opponents and not for the Lakers. Every other team is able to stretch the floor because they have shooters on top of shooters on their roster. The Lakers do not have that kind of firepower, or anything close to it.
Nick Young has struggled since the All-Star break, but he is still shooting over 40 percent from deep. D’Angelo Russell is also shooting a respectable 35.5 percent from three-point range. It all goes downhill from there.
The starting front court of Tarik Black, Julius Randle, and Brandon Ingram, can score at the rim but not from outside, which is the reason they should not be playing together in the same unit. Even the Lakers reserves, with Lou Williams gone, are not shooters. The closest is Jordan Clarkson, but he has done most of his damage this season at the rim. He is shooting a below average 32.1 percent from three point range. Larry Nance, Jr. is not a threat other than in the lane, in partbecause he just won’t shoot.
The Lakers current roster is flawed. They need shooters. Until they get some, they will not be able to score enough points to win against even average NBA competition.