Lakers Coach Luke Walton Has Had Enough
Last night the Lakers suffered yet again another embarrassing loss. The Houston Rockets handed the Lakers a 39-point blowout loss, something coach Luke Walton was not happy about at all. The Rockets are one of the top teams in the Western Conference so it’s no surprise about their win, but the Lakers showed no effort once again. In fairness, the Lakers did keep it close in certain parts of the game, especially in the first half. But it’s what transpired in the second half that is an all familiar story. The Lakers were outscored throughout the game and never had the lead. The 4th quarter was the dagger as the Rockets outscored the Lakers by 21 points and had fun doing it which didn’t sit well with coach Walton. The Lakers were allowing layups, rebounds and dunks and didn’t get back on transition defense. It was an easy task for the Rockets to dispatch the Lakers in the final 12 minutes of the game.
The Lakers aren’t very good defensively and they’ve been that way for the past couple of seasons now. But the effort is something the players can control and it’s been nonexistent for a number of games. It seems as if the urgency isn’t there and that the team has packed its bags ready for the long off-season. The bright spots for the Lakers were the play of Julius Randle (32 pts – career high), Brandon Ingram (18 pts) and Jordan Clarkson (18 pts). Russell had a really tough night with just 5 pts, fouled out and had 7 turnovers. Yes, the Lakers are a young team but that shouldn’t stop the players from putting in a consistent effort every night. Some of the players are auditioning for the team next year or trying to catch the eye of other teams in the NBA as well.
(Video via YouTube)
In an article by Mark Media of the OC Register:
The Lakers (20-48) have lost to the Rockets (47-21) by 39 points twice this season. They have lost three consecutive games, 10 of 11 and 38 of their last 48. And Walton has sensed his players are wearing ear plugs when he preaches endlessly about hustling, trusting each other and communicating.
“We need to figure out as a group, not individually, but as a group, how to handle adversity,” Walton said. “We do a lot of blaming of other people and we need to look at ourselves and control what we can control. Until we do, there’s going to be a lot of frustrating nights.”
Walton changed his starting backcourt for the second consecutive game, surprisingly pairing third-year guard Jordan Clarkson with veteran guard Nick Young instead of second-year guard D’Angelo Russell. None of them proved Walton right via their promotion or demotion.
After Young went scoreless after missing all nine of his shots, including seven from 3-point range, Walton said he “obviously must’ve been rusty” after sitting the past two games so Walton could play younger players. Clarkson had 18 points and three assists but was 7 for 19 from the field, leading him to concede he’s “trying to figure out my balance” on when to shoot and pass.
“He had good moments and moments that weren’t great. But one thing I love about (Clarkson) is he gives that effort,” Walton said. “He never takes plays off.”
Walton could not say the same thing about Russell, who had five points while going 2 for 10 from the field (0 for 5 from 3-point range) and collecting more fouls (six) and turnovers (seven) than assists (three).
“Still trying to figure it out. Different role and stuff like that. It’s whatever,” Russell said of his new role. “It’s great. I hope (Walton’s) doing what he expects. But it is what it is.”
For better and worse, the Lakers’ young roster produced another night of progress mixed with regression. That left an exasperated Walton frustrated that his words have not sparked enough action.
“The things I’m tired of talking about are the things we can control,” Walton said. “That’s how hard we fight and how much effort we give. Do we get back on transition defense all game long? It’s in anybody’s control, whether you’re in junior high, high school, anybody can control those things. Those are the things I’m tired of talking about.”
With just 14 games remaining in yet another disappointing season, the Lakers have to go out there and play with some pride. Show teams that they’re going to be better down the road. It’s too early to start thinking about vacation. Jobs can be on the line so it’s time to suck it up, go out and play hard till the very end.