Unlike earlier this week, the Los Angeles Lakers started the last two games strong but tailed off toward the end — leading to a hard-fought overtime victory over the Toronto Raptors and a loss against the Washington Wizards.
L.A. led D.C. for the majority of the clash but blew the lead in the fourth quarter, once again paying a price for inconsistency in their game. The Lakers scored just 20 points in the last period and couldn’t contain Kristaps Porzingis, who went 6-for-7 to chalk up 16 points in the final period alone.
After the loss, Carmelo Anthony said he finds it hard to understand why L.A. can’t maintain its momentum during games, suffering setbacks they struggle to recover from.
“I can’t. I don’t know what it is,” Anthony said. “We come into tonight with energy and effort for three quarters. Those guys never quit. You got to take your hat off to those guys. I don’t want to take nothing away from them because they played their ass off.
“Coming down in that fourth quarter, they executed their offense. They got confidence, they got momentum in that fourth. Kristaps [Porzingis] got it going and was taking advantage of what we’re doing and they won the game. You got to give them guys credit.”
Anthony added the Lakers run out of time to fix their inconsistency problem, as the Play-In Tournament will be unforgiving to them if the lapses in focus and effort persist.
“We have moments. We had three-fourths of a game tonight where we was at it,” he said. “We was active, we was playing with a different pace. Playing with a different confidence carrying over from last night’s game carried over to tonight. And then sometimes, we just had lapses out there. We allowed teams to get momentum, we allowed teams to get back in the game.
“We don’t put teams away and I think that’s our issue, but to answer your question, going into the Play-In Tournament and things like that, yeah, you want to play the right way. You want to get some momentum and some confidence, so when that time come, you don’t want to be starting from scratch with these Play-In games because you know everybody’s trying to do the same thing. Everybody’s trying to win.”
Frank Vogel says Lakers need to ‘learn how to win’
Head coach Frank Vogel echoed Anthony’s words, saying the Lakers have to find a way to compete with the same intensity for the full 48 minutes.
“This group needs to learn how to win,” Vogel said. “They have to learn how to win together and what that entails; we saw a snapshot of it last night with 48 minutes of next-man, selfless offense without forcing in the paint, which we got back to doing again tonight.
“For this team to take that step, fourth quarter is where you win games. You got to have a lockdown defense in the fourth, and we didn’t have that tonight. The final three quarters, we didn’t defend well enough.”
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