The first several weeks of the 2021-22 campaign have been nothing short of a struggle for the Los Angeles Lakers. The revamped roster around LeBron James and Anthony Davis continues to stumble in the efforts to find consistency. After the Lakers’ disappointing triple-overtime loss to the Sacramento Kings, Hall of Famer James Worthy blasted the team.
Lakers fall to the Kings in triple overtime
After a comeback win in overtime against the Indiana Pacers behind LeBron James’ 39 points, the Lakers stumbled against the Kings.
Los Angeles pushed through a low-scoring first half, which they battled through a back-and-forth third quarter, holding a five-point advantage heading into the fourth quarter. However, the Lakers’ lackluster defense allowed Sacramento led by De’Aaaron Fox, to force overtime.
Los Angeles raced out to a six-point lead in the first overtime, but the Kings erased the deficit behind Buddy Hield hitting a last-second jumper to force another five-minute period. The teams traded baskets in the second overtime, with Fox failing to get a shot up, leading to a third extra frame.
In the third overtime, the Lakers showed tired legs, with the Kings’ work on the offensive glass proving enough to edge out a road win. The loss marked Los Angeles’ fifth in the last seven contests, leading Hall of Famer James Worthy to blast the team again.
James Worthy brutally blasts the Lakers’ style of play: ‘That is not team basketball’
The Lakers entered the 2021-22 campaign aware that it would begin with a massive adjustment period for their revamped roster.
However, it continues to bleed over toward inconsistent performances resulting in frustrating losses. After Friday’s defeat to the Kings, James Worthy voiced during Spectrum Sportsnet’s postgame show that the Lakers are not playing team-oriented basketball.
“I just want to go home, man. There’s really not a lot to talk about,” Worthy said. “They were 15-for-44 from behind the arc from three. AD was 0-for-5. LeBron was 2-of-13 and that’s all they shot down the stretch was three. We don’t involve many people.
“LeBron was great, and I love seeing the ball in his hands, but if that’s all we’re gonna do is stand around and shoot threes, we’ve got to do more than that. That is not team basketball. What we witnessed in those last three overtimes, that is not team basketball.”
The Lakers’ insistence on shooting 3-pointers led them to porous shooting numbers from beyond the arc. It also resulted in a lack of ball movement and bad shot selection at times. Worthy’s comments underline the team’s need to build more on-court chemistry and fluidity in the offensive game plan if they hope to find any consistency.
It may be early in the regular season, but losses are piling up behind repeated shortcomings. If that doesn’t change, the Lakers will fall well short of competing for an NBA title.
LeBron James believes he must perform better
Although the Lakers continue to preach patience, the losses are starting to wear on the players.
After Friday’s defeat, James took it upon himself to voice that he needs to play better if the Lakers hope to compete for an NBA title.
“Obviously, I haven’t played many games,” James said via Lakers Nation. I’ve been in and out of the lineup. We still have two of our guys that haven’t played at all yet in TA [Trevor Ariza] and K-Nunn [Kendrick Nunn]. Make no mistake we still have to play Laker basketball, we still have to defend at a high level, we have to share the ball offensively and not turn the ball over.
“Obviously tonight, horrible turnovers on my part. I feel like I played a horrible game individually and I hold myself to a higher standard than that. I have to better for this team, especially when we’re going through what we’re going through right now out on the floor.”
James played 50 minutes against the Kings, where he registered a double-double with 30 points and 11 assists but committed seven turnovers and shot 2-of-13 from beyond the arc. The 36-year-old’s limited action, missing 10 of the first 21 contests, hasn’t helped him find fluidity.
Health has undoubtedly played a significant factor in the Lakers’ struggles, but it comes down to the roster gelling together on both ends of the floor. If they can’t accomplish that, the team won’t push anywhere near contending for a championship.