The Los Angeles Lakers saw their four-game winning streak come to an end on Monday as they were outclassed by the Memphis Grizzlies, 123-114. Things started bad and got worse for Luke Walton’s team and aside from a run in the third quarter, never really threatened Memphis.
The Lakers were shorthanded in the matchup, as they were without Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, but their problems stretched far beyond what those two bring to the table. Aside from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Josh Hart, there were few bright spots.
After the loss, Walton said he simply didn’t believe the Lakers were ready to play, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“There were lots of problems tonight, but I think the biggest one is we weren’t physically or mentally ready to match what Memphis brought tonight. And that’s disappointing. Because that has nothing to do with anything but the toughness to be engaged in a fight. We’ve been good at that, but for whatever reason, tonight we let them punk us all over the floor.”
For the most part, the Lakers have shown fight and resilience throughout this season. In recent weeks, most notably during the last couple games of their losing streak, that wasn’t been the case.
In addition to feeling they were mentally unprepared, Walton pointed to the Lakers’ defensive failures as well:
“They moved the ball freely. Now, give them credit. They made shots tonight. We let them move the ball where they wanted, we fouled them. They shot 30-something free throws again, which was a huge part of our scouting report. It was make them earn it, don’t send them to the foul line like we did last game. But, yet again, they shot 30-plus free throws tonight. And they just didn’t feel us. That’s not how we’ve been playing defense over this stretch.”
Memphis scored just 78 points in their game before facing the Lakers. They easily blew past that against L.A., putting 97 on the board through three quarters. The defensive effort was a far cry from what was sen during the winning streak.
Getting Ingram and Lonzo back will help that without a doubt, but in the long-run the Lakers must show consistent fight regardless of who suits up or not.
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