As some of us thought the Lakers could not play as poorly as they did last Saturday against Portland, the Lakers five-point halftime lead quickly evaporated as they were outscored 40 to 12 by Minnesota. That’s right, they were outscored 28 points in a single quarter to a team that is destined for the lottery this season. The Timberwolves were coming into this game having lost their previous six contests.
After the game, coach Frank Vogel addressed this and acknowledged that the team has not looked sharp when they come out after halftime so far this season.
“Obviously, our effort hasn’t good enough in the third quarter, consistently throughout this season.”
After this abysmal performance, the Lakers rank 28th worse (third to last) in terms of point differential in third quarters at -4.6. Currently, the only two worse teams are Houston and Detroit, both teams publicly going through a rebuild.
“We’re talking about it, we’re challenging our guys to do better. I don’t know what it was, we’re getting control early to start the game, playing well, executing the plan…[then later] we were getting beat to loose balls, we weren’t keeping our man in front of us, weren’t taking pride in protecting the rim. I think we lost 4 or 5 loose balls consecutively and we gotta be better with that, and obviously on the other end we start pressing.”
The problem with the Lakers right now is not only the lack of consistency from game to game, but it appears to transpire within the same game. They went through a stretch in the third quarter where they could not convert a field goal in almost eight minutes. These habits are common in young, inexperienced teams, not teams looking to compete for titles.
The Lakers had a similar scenario a couple weeks ago at Oklahoma City, when they coughed up a 26-point lead to lose to the lowly Thunder. They were outscored 41-23 in that third quarter.
Fans can blame coach Frank Vogel and his everchanging lineups all they want, but this falls directly on the players’ level of intensity and lack of defensive awareness. Vogel and the players had already acknowledged during training camp that they were going to tinker with the lineups and matchups as the season went, and they have no choice now with so many guys out with injuries.