40-Minute Lakers Need to Finish Strong

For the second game in a row, the LA Lakers played well, for about 40 minutes. Unfortunately, they are not a college basketball team, but rather play in the NBA, which requires its games last for 48 minutes. On Sunday, the Lakers were only four down with eight minutes to play, but then were outscored 18 to five by Russell Westbrook and the Thunder, losing 113 to 96. Last Night in Indiana, it was the Pacers and Paul George who

took over at the end. Leading by a point with a couple of minutes to go, George scored the Pacer’s final 12 points and the game’s last eight points for a 115 to 108 Indiana win.

The Lakers played far from a great game up to that point, but they did have some big moments, such as retaking the lead after earlier falling behind by as many as 16. Also, their abysmal three-pointing shooting sunk down to 21.4% on six of 28. There were a couple of bright spots for LA: With center Timofey Mozgov playing the role of punching bag for the Pacers, Tarik Black saw more playing time and produced well, with six points, eight boards plus a block and a steal in 19 minutes. Jose Calderon hit three of four and in 17 minutes scored nine points, his first points of the season, and Lou Williams was the team’s high scorer with 19 off the bench. Williams, though, was responsible for one of the most embarrassing and idiotic plays I’ve ever seen in a pro game when he raced down court and without really looking to pass or shoot, dribbled straight out of bonds for the worst of the Lakers’ 19 turnovers. Jordan Clarkson played better than in the last couple of games, hitting for 15, but still has been unable to hit a three, now missing all 10 attempts over the last three games.

The Lakers are in Atlanta tonight, facing former teammate and one-man-team (in his mind), the laughing man, Deee-Wight Howard. And they are without the one big guy they really need to defend him, Mosgov, who is awaiting a CT Scan to see the extent of the damage from last night’s mugging. The Hawks are off to a 3-0 start, thanks in large part to an incredibly soft early schedule, to some pretty good defense, and to a solid upgrade at point guard, ridding themselves of Jeff Teague and handing the reigns to Dennis Schroder. The Lakers saw Teague last night in Indiana, when he scored all of nine points, and he’s averaged a paltry 8.3 points per game so far this season. Meanwhile Schroder has averaged

close to double that – 14.0 – with six assists per game this season for the Hawks. Meanwhile Deee-Wight has been shooting only 45% on his six-inch shots this season, and has spent much of the early season on the bench due to continual foul trouble. Here’s a stat no one thought they’d ever see: Deee-Wight is actually shooting better from the foul line, 46%, than from the field. Heart attack time!

The Lakers need a solid, 48-minute effort to stop their road losing streak tonight, and without Mozgov that will be doubly tough. And any time they Lakers lose to a Deee-Wight team, it’s extremely painful, like Mozgov’s sore face.

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