After losing their last two games, the Los Angeles Lakers find themselves on the precipice of falling out of the playoff spots in the Western Conference.
Shortly after the Dallas Mavericks broke the Lakers’ hearts with a last-second shot on March 17, fan-favorite guard Austin Reaves spoke about the mood in the locker room and why he would expect the team to be feeling down after such a tough loss.
“The mood is obviously down,” Reaves said. “Just because you lose a tough one. One that we really needed. We need them all from here on out. We’re a group of competitors, so that’s obviously why I’d be worried if the mood wasn’t like that. Just because if you don’t care about losing games that are really meaningful, what’s the point of playing?
The Lakers are now tied for the 10th seed in the Western Conference, with the Utah Jazz breathing down their necks for the final spot that grants access to the play-in tournament.
Darvin Ham Sounds Off on Missed Free Throws
Despite getting to the free-throw line 31 times, the Lakers struggled to convert their chances, sinking just 19 of their gimmes throughout the contest against Dallas. During his post-game press conference, Ham addressed the team’s need to be more consistent with their chances from the line – especially in closely fought contests.
“I thought we weren’t disciplined at certain stages, Ham said. “We fouled. Had some really bad fouls. Fouling shooters. And also we did the job we wanted, [the job] we seek out to do every game, and that’s win the free-throw line. We got 31 attempts, but you got to make more than 19. We make our free throws, we’re probably not having this conversation.”
In 71 games, the Lakers rank 19th in the NBA for free-throw percentage, hitting just 77.8% of their chances at the line, placing them in between the Toronto Raptors (18th) and Cleveland Cavaliers (20th).
Anthony Davis Takes Blame For Final Shot
With seconds remaining on the clock, the Mavericks found Kyrie Irving, who was then picked up by Anthony Davis (among others.) However, rather than taking the game-winner himself, Kyrie used his scoring gravity to draw in the defense before kicking the rock to Maxi Kleber for the game-winner.
When speaking about that final possession after the game, Davis took responsibility for misreading Irving’s intention and allowing himself to be fooled by the superstar guard.
“With seven seconds, he [Irving] dribbled almost the whole clock out,” Davis said. “Me just reading him. Knowing that he’s probably going to take the last shot. He goes into his actual shooting motion and just comes down with it. He doesn’t shoot it. So, when he goes up [and] it kind of pulled me in. I was going for the rebound. Thought he was shooting it. He made a pass to Kleber. He makes the shot.”