In one of the lowest moments of this Lakers season, the ball slammed across the court to a spot past the three-point line above the left elbow and Andrew Nembhard swept a game winner.
That was November 28, a game the Lakers wanted to forget.
You will now think about it.
“It’s like Indiana again,” said a disappointed Darvin Ham.
With an opportunity to gain valuable ground in the Western Conference playoff race, the Lakers found themselves again with a last-second three-pointer from exactly that spot — that with Max Glue deliver the shot Friday night.
“It sucks to say the least,” Austin Reaves said.
The 111-110 loss Friday would have been miserable enough on its own, but with the team just losing in Houston as Anthony Davis was out as a precaution with his foot injury earlier this year, the Lakers are officially moving in the wrong direction.
It’s the first time the Lakers have lost consecutive games in more than a month.
“If you don’t care about losing really meaningful games, then what’s the point of playing?” Reaves said.
The Lakers have been clear on their strategy over the past month, prioritizing health over overall standings. With no restrictions, no back-to-back games to stop anyone, the Lakers just had an opportunity Friday.
Playing against the Mavericks, a team just one game ahead of them the ranking list When the Lakers entered Friday’s game, they had a chance to make a real move. Minnesota, Golden State, New Orleans and Portland lost everythinggiving the team a valuable chance to gain ground.
You didn’t take it.
After being as much as 14 behind, the Lakers fought back and led by five in the fourth before the Mavericks staged a comeback.
Three Kleber free throws (after being fouled on a Davis three-pointer) made it a one-point play in the last minute.
Davis then split two free throws to give the Mavericks a chance to either win or draw.
There would be no overtime, the Lakers forced the ball out of Kyrie Irving’s hands, but Kleber stepped in and took the shot when the horn sounded.
Davis finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds and five other Lakers scored at least 10 on a night that saw the team poorly outplayed by Irving and the Mavericks from the three-point line.
Dallas made 11 more three-pointers than the Lakers, who also missed 12 free throws against just four for the Mavericks, who were without Luka Doncic.
Irving scored 38 to lead Dallas.
After the loss that put the Lakers in the slightest lead for the last play-in spot ahead of Utah, the Lakers said they need to play like a team that needs them all.
But with caveats to whether Davis can play back-to-backs is obviously more difficult.
This strategy comes at a price, and Western Conference teams seem willing to pay it.
By emphasizing potential post-season health instead of regular-season wins, teams like the Lakers, the Clippers, and the Mavericks are potentially sacrificing key games in a packed playoff race.
It hasn’t completely disappeared from the radar. At Friday’s shootaround, Dennis Schroder told reporters that he had one specific spot in mind — outside of the play-in tournament.
“I think the way we are as a group right now I think the chemistry is perfect,” Schroder said. “As I said, we just have to try to be number 6, that’s our goal and our wish. And then go from there.”
Even so, the number 6 would open the playoffs on the road.
Ham, who has more than 25 years of NBA experience as a player and coach, has seen a shift toward health become paramount for teams heading into the postseason.
“I don’t think it’s completely changed, but I think health comes first [seeding]’ Ham said ahead of Friday’s game. “…And the playoffs, I won’t say they’re overrated, but you have to win away at some point to become world champions, so you just have to be solid, healthy, confident and playing at a good rhythm.
“And no matter where you play, you give yourself a chance. But just with the home game I’ve seen teams multiple times, many, many postseasons have home field advantage and it doesn’t matter because they gave up those home games.
However, history says that teams that struggle uphill in the playoffs are at a huge disadvantage.
The 1995 Houston Rockets are the lowest-seeded team to win a title after starting the playoffs sixth in the West.
The 1999 New York Knicks advanced to the Finals as the eighth seed in a lockout-shortened season.
The Lakers’ seed hopes are not individually tied to whether or not Davis is on the court in back-to-back games (the Lakers are playing Jazz and the Clippers are in their last back-to-back year).
LeBron James continues to make progress, and Schroder said he watched James complete multiple daily workouts to return.
Bringing him back with him still on the season clock would be a huge boost.
Ahead of the game, Ham warned against the team looking at the standings over the past dozen games or setting specific win/loss targets.
“Each game is its own entity and we have to approach it that way,” Ham said. “We have to make sure we’re maximizing and improving as much as we can every day while still trying to reach our goal. But you only have to take them one by one.
“We cannot be overwhelmed where we have 12 left and we need to reach that number [of wins], and you start to overlook things. Our priority was to stay in the moment and take them one at a time.”
On Friday, however, it was the Mavericks who took it.
Source : www.latimes.com