Lakers stumble out of play-in position with loss
12: 33 AM ET
Dave McMenaminESPN Staff Writer
- Lakers and NBA reporter for ESPN.
- Covered the Lakers and NBA for ESPNLosAngeles.com from 2009-14, the Cavaliers from 2014-18 for ESPN.com and the NBA for NBA.com from 2005-09.
DALLAS — For the first time since the first week of the regular season, the Los Angeles Lakers find themselves on the outside of the play-in tournament looking in after Tuesday night’s 128-110 loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
Playing without LeBron James (left ankle sprain) and Anthony Davis (right midfoot sprain), the Lakers trailed by as many as 37 points as Luka Doncic recorded a 30-point triple-double through the first three quarters (34 points, 12 rebounds, 12 assists). “We didn’t execute well enough or play with enough toughness and intelligence, focus, fight and fight,” Frank Vogel, Lakers coach, said. “So, this is unacceptable and a poor performance all around. Coaches, players, everybody. “
Los Angeles is No. 11 in the Western Conference with seven games remaining. The Lakers, at 31-44, have the same record as the No. 10 Spurs, but San Antonio owns the tiebreaker.
Looking ahead to the final stretch, the Lakers have gone 4-10 against their six remaining opponents. (They play the Denver Nuggets twice.) The Spurs are 5-11 versus their six remaining foes. (San Antonio plays the Portland Trail Blazers twice.) The Nuggets (45-31) are No. 6 in the Western Conference standings. The Blazers (27-48) are No. 12 and will be out their star, Damian Lillard, for the rest of the season.
Vogel said James and Davis will both be reevaluated Thursday to determine their availability for Los Angeles’ game at the Utah Jazz on Thursday night. Davis, who has been sidelined since Feb. 16, is targeting a return by Friday at home against the No. 9 New Orleans Pelicans, sources told ESPN.
Tuesday’s performance was about as bad as it has been for the Lakers in a season already full of disappointment. The 82 points they gave up in the first half were the second most allowed in a first half in franchise history, narrowly avoiding the record set when the Boston Celtics hung 83 on them in the first half on Feb. 27, 1959, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Los Angeles’ 26-point halftime deficit Tuesday combined with the 28 points New Orleans outscored them by in the second half Sunday represented the worst points differential, minus-54, over a two-half span for the Lakers in the shot clock era. Vogel was asked if the Lakers feel more urgent after falling out of the play in. “We need to keep our eyes on the process, the work, and the things that will lead to the next victory. This is the only place we will focus. “
Russell Westbrook, who had 25 points, eight rebounds and six assists but was part of Los Angeles being outscored by 25 points in the 32 minutes he was on the floor, added another contentious postgame exchange with a reporter to his season resume. When Westbrook was asked about the changes that the Lakers will face now that they must fight to be back in the play-in tournament, Westbrook replied, “Nothing man.” Nothing. “
After the reporter asked why nothing had changed, Westbrook stood up from his place at the interview table. He said, “What do YOU think should change?” “
The reporter suggested that “winning” be the answer. Westbrook continued the back and forth by asking, “That’s fine. Did you get an answer to winning? You got the answer to winning. “
As the exchange continued for a few minutes, Westbrook noticed that a camera was pointed in his direction. He changed his tone and gave a half-hug before leaving the room.
” We are cool,” he stated. “Y’all need to keep that in your records. “
The Lakers are 4-13 since the All-Star break, which is on pace to be the franchise’s second-lowest win percentage post-All-Star break in team history. We just got our butt whupped. Straight up,” Lakers forward Stanley Johnson said. “So whatever spirit they had, they kicked our arse. It was 30 points pretty much the whole game. It’s hard to think of a better way to put it. We can do better than that. “
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.