LOS ANGELES — Scott Foster took the microphone Monday about a minute and a half before halftime of the Lakers’ 126-115 loss to the Boston Celtics and played with the Christmas Day crowd at Crypto.com Arena.
“Upon review, it was a good block by LeBron James,” the veteran official said, before pausing for dramatic effect, as if watching the entire effort from the sidelines. “However…just before LeBron James’ block, Taurean Prince made contact with (Jayson) Tatum’s arm, causing him to lose the ball.
So Merry Christmas, Lakers fans. It must be fun to watch your team play in one of the NBA’s most prestigious holiday games so often. However…it just means you’re used to seeing your team lose them – they’re 24-26 all-time and have won just four of their last 15 games.
Because, yes, your Lakers have established themselves as title contenders after their foray into the Western Conference finals last season. However…at this point, they are several rungs below the Celtics (23-6). And the Milwaukee Bucks (22-8). Or the reigning champion Denver Nuggets (22-10 and two games behind the Minnesota Timberwolves, first). Teams which have been in better health, certainly, but which are also much more credible in the role of potential champion.
The Lakers 16-15, losers of six of their last eight games, have the talent to compete with the best teams, coach Darvin Ham reminded us after the game. And they have the “hardworking,” “smart guys” and “LeBron James,” Austin Reaves insisted. However…they don’t have a functional starting lineup.
After four straight losses, Ham had to reconfigure his starting five and did so last week. Before the Lakers faced Oklahoma City, he relegated a struggling D’Angelo Russell to the bench and replaced him with Jarred Vanderbilt. And the Lakers won. However…the new opening quintet he imagined? Well, that’s not it.
The idea, Ham said before Monday’s game, was that extra defensive energy from tipoff would help the Lakers’ cause. So it would wake them from their chronic first-quarter slumber, which causes them to lose the first 12 minutes, on average, by 3.9 points – worse than any NBA team (or so-called NBA team) that doesn’t is not the Portland Trail. Blazers (-4.0) and Detroit Pistons (-4.1).
However …this James-Vanderbilt-Prince-Anthony Davis-Cam Reddish experiment — which Ham said he was “completely comfortable” about before the game — couldn’t muster any offense Monday or do much- thing to slow down a lively and sharp C team either. The Lakers lost 12-0 in a hurry and were forced to go into debt again, spending energy to catch up.
And there aren’t endless reserves of energy this time of year, Ham said, not with a team coming back from a long journey that included a strong push for the tournament’s first title of the season. Or, he says, his group having started their day with all the energy-consuming obligations of the holiday at home.
Not with James, almost 39, bouncing back after hitting the bridge, holding his knee, threatening Really to ruin every Lakers fan’s Christmas before returning to action to give his guys a noble fight, his knee admittedly sore and looking like that.
Of course, as predictable as the Lakers’ first-quarter deficit was, so was their rally. Anthony Davis enthusiastically dropped 40 points in the 40th regular season game of his career and the Lakers outscored Boston 34-26 in the second quarter and took the lead for the first time – 59-58 early in the third quarter – on a James set up.
However …the Celtics, as convincing as a fully assembled package, held off their hosts down the stretch without breaking a sweat. Dressed for the occasion, with red cuffs and headbands to match their green uniforms, they ripped off seven straight points after Vanderbilt’s dunk with 9:40 left in the third quarter and never looked back.
The Lakers, meanwhile, are still looking for some balance. They’re still looking for a tastier offensive-defensive mix that will really upset a team like Boston, who are on a tear, having won three straight and 12 of their last 14 games – going in the opposite direction of their hosts. vacation.
However! “There’s a lot of basketball to be played,” Reaves reminded everyone, recalling last season’s late-season turnaround and coming off Monday’s short-lived comeback. “We will not give up.”
At this point, the Lakers could probably use a break. A victory. Although it’s a coaching challenge, overriding a call on James at a pivotal moment in a big game. And they even had one on Monday.
“Upon review, it was a good block from Lebron James…. HOWEVER » Scott Foster is such a troll lmaooo pic.twitter.com/bj2CLEjzLF
– Molly Morrison (@mollyhannahm) December 25, 2023
California Daily Newspapers