LOS ANGELES — The Lakers’ 116-115 loss to the Indiana Pacers was a masterclass in tips on how to blow a lead within the fourth quarter.

“Everything has to go wrong in order for you to lose a game like that,” LeBron James mentioned. “And everything went wrong.”

The Lakers held a 17-point lead with 9:27 remaining within the fourth quarter, having opened the body on a fast 8-0 run to seemingly blow the sport open. They have been firmly in management and headed for an vital win forward of their upcoming six-game East Coast street journey.

“(Indiana) was ready, in my opinion, ready to quit,” Anthony Davis mentioned. “We let them back in the game.”

From the 9:26 mark of the fourth quarter, the Pacers outscored the Lakers 32-14, together with 15-5 over the ultimate three minutes. At the buzzer, rookie Andrew Nembhard drilled a game-winning 3-pointer to tear out the Lakers’ coronary heart.

Los Angeles, which had gained 5 of their earlier six video games, is now 7-12. Over the previous 20 seasons, that they had been 347-0 within the common season and postseason when holding a lead of at the least 17 factors at any level within the fourth quarter, per Stats Perform.

“You gotta tip your hat to Indiana,” James mentioned. “They took the game from us. Give ’em credit.”

The Pacers deserve credit score for his or her resilience, execution and big-time shot-making throughout their comeback. But the Lakers concurrently deserve loads of blame for the way they unraveled in what was basically a must-win sport.

The Lakers’ effort-related issues that have stymied them all season — permitting offensive rebounds, failing to get stops in transition, and stalling offensively with a lead — every reared their ugly heads on the identical time.

First-year head coach Darvin Ham put the blame on himself afterward, admitting he might’ve managed the sport higher down the stretch, notably the crew’s offensive woes. The Lakers shot 8-for-22 (36.4 p.c) within the closing body. James, who had 21 factors and 7 rebounds, shot simply 2-for-8 (25 p.c).

“I wish we would have been a lot more aggressive, continued playing with pace,” Ham mentioned. “That falls on me. I’ll take responsibility for that.”

Let’s check out a number of the key possessions that swung the sport within the closing minutes

With just a little greater than three minutes left, the Pacers have been already deep into their run, reducing the Lakers’ result in simply six factors earlier than a Russell Westbrook 3-pointer close to the Pacers’ bench prolonged the lead again to 9. The Lakers, scrambling to search out their assignments in transition, left Myles Turner, the path man, broad open above the arc.

Freeze the video on the 0:02 mark. Turner didn’t have a Laker defender inside 10 toes of him. Swish.

It took lower than eight seconds for the Pacers to answer Westbrook’s basket.

“They got some open 3s,” Davis mentioned. “We got scrambled in transition a lot off of some bad offense. And they cut the lead down one possession at a time.”

About 90 seconds later, Westbrook ran a aspect pick-and-roll with Davis. Westbrook took the bait from Turner, who was dropped again within the lane, and rose for a pull-up mid-range jumper. This was a nasty shot, particularly for Westbrook. The ball clanked off the backboard.

This is a recurring theme with Westbrook in crunch time. He must make smarter selections in shut video games.

“We can’t be in situations where we’re throwing the ball and everyone is standing and we’re dribbling out the clock, dribbling out the clock,” Ham mentioned. “Now we’re waiting on someone to go one-on-one vs. the world. That’s tough. That’s a huge responsibility to have to score in those situations.”

James tapped the ball out after Westbrook’s miss, main to a different pick-and-roll state of affairs with Westbrook and Davis. This time, Westbrook drove to the rim, lacking a layup. It’s unclear if his shot was blocked, however the spirit of Westbrook’s resolution was significantly better than his jump-shot-heavy shot choice earlier, even when the execution was considerably uncontrolled.

There was far an excessive amount of Westbrook over the ultimate couple of minutes of this sport. He had performed nicely till that time, however ought to nonetheless be a distant third possibility behind James and Davis. The Lakers allowed him to run the offense regardless of that disrupting the crew’s circulate. That’s on Ham to both sub Westbrook out or make sure the ball will get in James’ or Davis’ arms.

Fast-forward to 43.6 seconds left, when there was one other expensive miscue. Austin Reaves was supposed to modify with Dennis Schröder onto Tyrese Haliburton. Instead, he caught along with his man, Buddy Hield, and Haliburton waltzed to the rim for a layup. It was a bang-bang play, however Reaves mentioned he informed James he “f—– up” the change within the locker room postgame.

On the ultimate Pacers possession, Davis known as for a change with Westbrook earlier than the ball is inbounded, however Westbrook was late to observe Davis’ command. Westbrook as an alternative sprinted out to Turner, who was broad open above the arc once more, closing out in a formidable period of time. Turner acquired a stable look, nevertheless it missed brief.

The shot ricocheted off the entrance of the rim, hitting Bennedict Mathurin’s arms earlier than touchdown in Haliburton’s.

There was a distinction of opinion on the defensive protection that what was imagined to occur. James deemed the change a mistake — possible on Westbrook’s half — that led to an open shot.

“We messed up a coverage to start, and that’s how Myles Turner was able to get the open three,” James mentioned. “So that’s why we were in scramble mode after that.”

Davis, in the meantime, implied the 2 teammates have been on the identical web page.

“I was on Turner and saw (Mathurin) going to the corner, I thought Russ was kinda beat so I helped,” Davis mentioned. “Russ did a great job of getting back out to Turner.”

Once Haliburton acquired the rebound, he head-faked a 3-point shot, drawing the eye of each Schröder and Reaves, and started to drive whereas scanning the ground. He then stopped on a dime, pivoted and threw a left-handed bullet to Nembhard on the alternative aspect of the ground.

At this level, James and Westbrook each botched their tasks. Westbrook ought to most likely place himself decrease on the ground, someplace between Turner and Nembhard in case he wanted to shut out to both shooter. James was serving to Davis defend the rim, however the Lakers have been up two factors and wanted to forestall a 3. He ought to’ve been nearer to Mathurin as nicely, particularly after seeing that Westbrook was taking Turner.

“We had two on the ball, I think, at that time,” James mentioned. “I think (Schröder) and (Reaves) was on the ball, and (Davis) had two, I was playing two. And Haliburton found a shooter weakside. Got out a good contest. But NBA players, they make shots like that. So give him credit.”

For no matter it’s value, James overlooked Westbrook from his evaluation of the ultimate a part of the possession, after implying Westbrook made a mistake to modify on the inbound. It could have been a coincidental omission, nevertheless it continues a season-long icy development within the two gamers’ postgame feedback relating to each other.

The bigger level that shouldn’t be misplaced within the minutia of the sport is that the Lakers shouldn’t have been on this place within the first place. They wasted notable efforts from Westbrook (24 factors, six assists and 6 turnovers) and Davis (25 factors, 13 rebounds, six assists and 4 blocks).

Ham and a number of gamers referenced the crew’s effort, which shouldn’t be a problem for a 7-12 squad nonetheless attempting to dig themselves out of their early-season gap.

“When you have control of things, you have to make sure you maintain control of the game,” Ham mentioned. “And we had control of it early in the game, but that’s why the game is 48 minutes and no lead is safe in this league.”

Hanging over the game was the general public dynamic of the offseason trade talks between the two teams that concerned Westbrook, Turner, Hield and future Lakers draft picks.  There have been faint cheers for Turner and Hield from Laker followers throughout pregame introductions. Westbrook appeared to have some further juice.

Ham addressed the state of affairs earlier than the sport, stating that the Lakers are pleased with their present roster.

“We’re totally thrilled with the way our current group is progressing, and we’re excited about the success we’ve had here recently,” Ham mentioned. “And we just hope to build on it in that locker room.”

That’s another excuse why Monday’s loss was a step backward for the Lakers. Teams inevitably make errors and collapse, however this was an inexcusable efficiency. They ought to’ve gained this sport, even after it acquired shut. This was a gut-punch loss that sapped the momentum that they had been constructing.

“This one stings for sure,” Davis mentioned. “The way we lost, it was all self-inflicted wounds.”

The Lakers can have a protracted movie session at observe on Tuesday, dissecting their fourth-quarter meltdown. Then it’s a Wednesday matchup with Portland — one other must-win sport — earlier than a frightening road-heavy December slate.

“The biggest thing for us, again, is understanding how to play with a lead,” Ham mentioned. “Next time out, I’m sure I’ll do a much better job of keeping us organized.”


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(Photo: Allen Berezovsky / Getty Images)



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