For all their free-throw woes this season, the Los Angeles Lakers seemingly hit rock bottom on Friday. By making just two of 14 attempts, their 14.3 percent set a single-game record for worst in NBA history. Jordan Clarkson equated it to a “virus or something.”
He was responsible for each of the Lakers’ makes, en route to scoring a season-high 33 points. Lakers head coach Luke Walton and several of the players have discussed free-throw shooting ad nauseam this season.
“Good for us,” Larry Nance Jr. quipped at shootaround when informed the team set a record in their win over the Indiana Pacers.
Walton, meanwhile, remains at a loss. “It is very confusing,” he said. “We talk about it, we work on it. Then I tried to not talk about it, maybe just let it happen naturally.
“It kills us, it hurts us. But like everything else, hard work and confidence is normally the way to fix things. So, just keep drilling it, keep working on it. Guys have to step up to the line and knock them down.”
Having exhaustively discussed the topic, Walton’s contemplating utilizing meditation as a means to help ease players’ minds. The group held a 15-minute meditation session last month, and has another on the schedule after an upcoming five-game road trip.
It will be conducted by Andy Puddicombe, the co-founder of Headspace. “I was thinking of having him try to focus on some sort of relaxing mechanism when you step up to the line,” Walton said.
“They’re all very capable free throw shooters. It’s not like they don’t have the skill to knock them down. We just have to clear our minds and take it for what it is, which is just one shot at a time.”
Walton, who learned the value of meditation under former Lakers head coach Phil Jackson, is aware not all players will accept or be open to the sessions. “We’re going to keep doing it in hopes some of the young guys pick it up and get into it,” Walton said.
“There’s always guys who are not going to understand it and not like it. If we can get two, three, four, five of the guys to embrace it, I’m a big believer in you train your muscles in the weight room, you train your skills out here on the court, your mind is like a muscle.
“It’s important for guys to understand that you can train your mind to gain an advantage at this sport.”
Larry Nance Jr. is among those who have yet to embrace mediation but he has an open mind to it. “Apparently if you try it more, settle into it more, you get into a state of peace, I guess. I haven’t taken it that far but it’s something I might revisit,” Nance said.
“We’ve only done so much of it this year. With any group of people, some buy into it more than others. And for the guys that do buy into it, it seems like it helps them.”
WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DISCUSSION? CHECK OUT THE NEW LAKERSNATION FORUM CLUB