Inside a quiet Lakers locker room late Wednesday night, LeBron James dressed in silence while Anthony Davis spoke to the media in a soft voice next to his running partner. James slowly put his clothes on and left without speaking to the media.
The Lakers have lost three straight games and are 3-9 since winning the NBA’s in-season tournament a little more than three weeks ago.
The 110-96 loss to the Miami Heat at Crypto.com Arena left the Lakers in a sour mood.
“We’re losing,” guard Austin Reaves said. “Anytime you lose, the vibe should be off, you know? If I went in there and the vibe wasn’t off after the rough stretch that we’ve had, then I’d be concerned. That’s really it. You know, I don’t expect for us to be happy with how we’ve played. So, until we figure that out, you know, the vibe should be off. We got to win games.”
To be sure, Reaves said after producing 24 points, eight assists and five rebounds in a starting role again, he’s not suggesting there is an issue inside the locker room.
It’s just that losing brings misery.
“And to just go back to your question, when I say the vibe is off, it’s not like we don’t like each other. It’s we’re losing,” Reaves said. “We should be pissed off. We shouldn’t be happy after games with how we’re playing. But I don’t want to get that twisted on us not liking each other. Everybody in the locker room gets along. When the frustration of losing wears off a day or two later, it’s not like the vibe is off. The vibe is good being around one another.”
The only way to get out of this rut, Davis said, is by “competing.”
Davis said the group also can’t let making or missing shots stop them from competing on defense and offense.
“I think that kind of wore on guys a little bit, when their shot’s not falling, it kind of messes with guys and it kind of carries over to the next play — whether it’s offense or defense,” Davis said. “So, that will help but we just got to go out and compete, no matter what. Leave it all out on the floor. Doing the little things that kind of get you going.”
Davis did his share of the lifting for the Lakers, scoring 29 points, grabbing 17 rebounds, handing out six assists and blocking five shots.
“I know for me, if I am not playing well offensively, I’ll do the little things,” Davis said. “I’ll block a shot, I’ll go get a big rebound, I’ll dive on the floor and get a steal. Anything to kind of get you going. So, I think our little things that will help us kind of get back into a rhythm offensively, with our shot-making, but also kind of get us a little energy on the defensive end because right now we’re not doing anything on both ends.”
Lakers give the ball away too much
The Lakers were down 10 points when Davis and Reaves forced a missed shot by Bam Adebayo, putting the Lakers in position to put a dent in their deficit in the fourth quarter.
But after Davis got the defensive rebound, he threw the ball away, his pass to Reaves floating out of bounds and the Lakers’ fortunes going the same way after yet another turnover.
Davis crouched over, shaking his head at his ill-advised pass, one of the 22 turnovers the Lakers had against the Heat. It was one shy of the Lakers’ season high.
“You’re constantly turning the ball over — I had five — it’s deflating,” Davis said. “You can’t even get a shot on the rim, I mean, you get 10 in the first quarter. Twelve is usually the goal for a game. And we had 10 in the first quarter. So, it gets deflating, especially unforced turnovers. Bad passes or mishandling the ball. It’s those where it’s not even forced, those are the deflating ones. And they go out and score. And it just kept happening in the first quarter, which is, like I said, deflating. It kind of slows the game down and we dug ourselves a hole and it just kind of carried out through the rest of the game.”
The Lakers started the game being careless with the basketball, giving it away 10 times. They had 15 by the half.
But the tone was set in the first quarter.
Beside the five by Davis, Cam Reddish had four and Reaves had three.
The last turnover the Lakers had with four minutes and 50 seconds left in the game was the final straw for them.
They never got closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
“The outlet pass that AD tried to throw to me, which I thought he was tossing it to ‘Bron, so I was just running,” Reaves said. “But it’s little things like that. I’ve got to be better just not having those situations happen and maybe if we go down there and score, get some momentum and push to win that game. But the first quarter has got to be better.”
Poor shooting dooms Lakers
The Lakers took 30 three-point shots and made just four of them.
That’s not going to get it done in a league in which three-point shooting is needed to be successful.
James missed all six of his three-point attempts, Taurean Prince all five of his and Max Christie missed seven of his nine attempts.
“If you just look at the stat sheet, we got to shoot the ball better from three. Shooting 13% tonight, you are not going to win those games when you do that,” Reaves said. “…Basketball today you got to shoot the three well.”