The Los Angeles Lakers lost in double-overtime to the Houston Rockets in their final game of the year, but the night wasn’t without a few positives to take into 2018.
For one, the Lakers broke out of an offensive slump and battled against one of the NBA’s best teams on the road despite missing three of their normal starters as Lonzo Ball (shoulder), Brook Lopez (ankle) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (travel restriction) all were absent.
And despite changing their starting lineup for the second time in two games, the Lakers were able to build a lead of as large as 17 points against Houston before finally succumbing in the second overtime, and did so on the strength of their young players.
Julius Randle was exceptional with 29 points, 15 rebounds and six assists before fouling out. Rookie guard Josh Hart continued an impressive debut campaign in his second-straight start, dropping 26 points while playing impressive defense for a first-year player.
Still, it was hard for Hart to see those positives after the game, and he explained why to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN after the game:
“It really hurt because we came out battling and obviously we’re playing without some starters and just battling and this one really hurt. … We were frustrated because we know we should’ve had that one. We lost it, we had a lot of dumb fouls and a couple of lapses on defense and it hurts.”
Losses like this are the hardest to bare for rookies like Hart, who have been winning at every level before they got to the NBA and are now faced with the best players in the world and more talented teams on a nightly basis for the first time in their lives.
But that pain is a necessary part of the growth process for young teams like the Lakers. Yes, they blew a few rotations late, and sure, they took a few misguided shots as they lost their lead.
However, you can bet that the Lakers will remember how this game stung the next time before making the same mistake again, or it will at least contribute to their learning process.
Losing isn’t fun, but it will lead to winning if the young Lakers like Hart take these lessons to, well, heart, moving forward.
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