On Wednesday night at Staples Center, the Los Angeles Lakers continued their downward spiral and lost their eighth straight game as the Oklahoma City Thunder routed the Lakers, 133-96.
Paul George scored 24 points in 27 minutes, while Carmelo Anthony scored 21 points and grabbed six rebounds without touching the court for the fourth quarter. Likewise, Russell Westbrook scored 20 points, passed off 12 assists and grabbed six rebounds without playing any of the final 12 minutes.
The less said about the Lakers' performance, the better.
"Our fans deserve better than that and our organization deserves better than that," Lakers coach Luke Walton said after the crushing defeat.
Walton added, "To lose like that, that's not who we are."
The Lakers coach continued, "This one felt different. This doesn't sit well, but I think it's more of an outlier. I don't expect this to become the norm for us when we struggle."
As the score suggested, the Lakers were not competitive on this evening. The Thunder completely overran the Lakers and led by as many as 39 points, and the game turned uglier with every passing second.
After the game, Lakers forward Brandon Ingram somberly stated, "Our defensive presence was not there after the first quarter."
The Lakers actually scored the first 10 points of the game, so if that opening run was excluded, the difference between the two teams was closer to 50 points than 40. Along with losing eight straight, the Lakers have also lost 11 of their last 12 games.
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"We just flat out gave up," Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma said with a hint of anger. "You could see, they got basket after basket. We had no resistance on them on the defensive end. On the offensive end, when things got tough, we tried to do it individually, and you can't do that in this league."
When asked about how to fix the issue, Kuzma added, "It's all about effort."
The mood in the locker room was one of anger, frustration and fatigue. Losing 11 of 12 games takes its toll and losing by 37 points had clearly rattled the young ball club. With the defeat the Lakers fell to 11-26 on the season and a far cry from the goal of potentially squeezing into a playoff spot.
Kuzma spoke emphatically about his frustrated point of view: "Today was five steps back in my opinion, so something that we need to address, I don't know, pray, something needs to change for sure."
Paul George Homecoming
Paul George, who grew up in Riverside and has been heavily linked with a potential move to Los Angeles in the summer of 2018, had his family sitting courtside and even gave his parents a hug after a made shot. After the game, George spoke about the experience of being cheered in Los Angeles, even though he was a visiting player and also having his family and friends in the stands.
"It was awesome, for one," George said, "Just being home, being in front of friends, family. And the respect, the love, the recruitment (smiles). It was awesome to get that love and energy."
Asked about his impressions of the Lakers, George said he couldn't have any expectations or impressions because Lonzo Ball was not playing and the rookie's role is vital for the Lakers' style of play.
"It's what you expect in a young team," George said when asked about the Lakers after the game. "They're going to have their bruises. They're going to have their wounds. The best thing is [the Lakers] have young guys that are potentially going to be big names in this league. They've just got to continue to keep working, fine tuning themselves."
George concluded, "They've got good young talent."