“We sucked,” Davis said when asked about the third. “No defense. Can’t score. That’s not just this third quarter, it’s every third quarter we’ve played this season. We come out slow, lackadaisical offensively and defensively. We got to get it together. Why? I can’t tell you. But we got to do a better job.”
Including the mauling at the hands of Minnesota, the Lakers have been outscored by 83 points in the third quarter this season, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information. It’s the worst points differential by any team in any quarter this season.
“We got to decide who we want to be. A championship team? That’s not us right now,” Davis said. “We’re not winning a championship the way we’re playing. We got to be better, and we got to care more for our wins at home. Wins in general. That was embarrassing.”
After taking a five-point lead into halftime, L.A. shot just 4-for-21 from the field (19%), including 1-for-13 from 3-point range (7.7%), in the third quarter with six turnovers. Meanwhile, the Wolves shot 15-for-24 overall (62.5%), including 7-for-13 from 3 (53.8%), with just three turnovers. They were led by Karl-Anthony Towns, who personally outscored the Lakers 18-12 in the quarter.
“The inconsistency is a problem,” Russell Westbrook said when asked about L.A.’s third-quarter woes.
Adding to L.A.’s letdown was the fact that the loss snapped a two-game winning streak that was supposedly sparked by a similar loss to the Portland Trail Blazers last weekend when the Lakers said they vowed as a team to play with better energy and effort moving forward.
“Well, there’s no better motivator than a bad loss,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “I think our guys are angry, our coaching staff is angry, and we’ll get back to work and do whatever we need to do to fix it and get our execution better. And all of those things: effort, focus, execution.”
While L.A. played its fifth straight game without LeBron James, who is out with an abdomen strain, the Lakers were still above .500 without him and the defeat was delivered by a Wolves team that came into the night with a 3-7 record.
“Oh, we definitely should be winning games,” said guard Wayne Ellington, who made his first start of the season. “We still should be winning games. Obviously, LeBron is LeBron. But at the same time, no excuse for us to come in and have a performance like we did tonight. That team was not better than us.”
Davis said the Lakers will benefit from a film session Saturday in order to try to get back on track ahead of their next game Sunday afternoon against the San Antonio Spurs.
“What we can’t do is, one, point the finger,” Davis said. “You know, ‘It was you.’ ‘It was you.’ ‘It was you.’ ‘This play was you.’ Like, we got to stay together. And we’ll stay together. But also, we got to learn from the film. And so the film tomorrow is going to be big for us to have another heart to heart about these type of games. We hate feeling this way. Obviously, if we lose — we’re going to lose games, everybody loses games. But doing it the right way. Having a team actually beat us. Not beating ourselves.
“And those are the frustrating ones, when we beat ourselves.”
For Westbrook, whose 33rd birthday on Friday was soured by a game in which L.A. trailed by as many as 33 points, the film will only reinforce what was abundantly clear during the game: This cannot be the team’s standard this season.
“Sometimes you know it’s time to let it go and move on,” Westbrook said. “Sometimes you cuss people out and get on everybody’s ass and sometimes you just kind of let it play out. We’ll watch film tomorrow. We’ll kind of see the vibe, and I think there’s not a soul in that locker room that doesn’t know what we were supposed to do tonight, and we just didn’t do it.
“So, sometimes you just kind of … you already know. You don’t need to beat a dead horse.”
Boston Celtics’ Jaylen Brown on minutes restriction vs. Houston Rockets in return from 8-game injury absence
BOSTON — The Boston Celtics had forward Jaylen Brown back in the lineup for the first time in two weeks Monday against the Houston Rockets after he missed the prior eight games with a right hamstring strain.
“He’ll be on limited minutes,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said before the game. “[We’ll] try to keep him around 24 minutes — probably four six-minute stints. Keep it lower, keep him away from fatigue.
“We’ll monitor that, just see how he feels.”
Brown replaced Dennis Schroder in the starting lineup.
Udoka said that Brown, who was questionable Friday against the Lakers before being ruled out for both that game and Saturday’s matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder, has been able to get some work in on the court over the past several days in advance of his return, allowing him to re-acclimate himself with the starting lineup.
In addition to Brown, the Celtics got starting center Robert Williams back Monday, after he missed the prior two-and-a-half games with knee soreness. Udoka said there wouldn’t be a cap on Williams’ minutes, but that he would try to keep him under 30 minutes against Houston.
“He’s really fine,” Udoka said. “It’s more so a pain tolerance till he can get his knees feeling well. So it’s not a restriction same as Jaylen, but we’d like to see him on the lower side of 30 if possible if it dictates what the game has.”
While Boston got Brown and Williams back, the Celtics were without Josh Richardson, who missed the game with a non-COVID illness.
“Story of the year: Get one back, get one who’s missing,” Udoka said.
That constant shuffling of guys in and out of the lineup left the biggest challenge for Boston being developing chemistry for their group.
“Just the chemistry in the missed time,” Udoka said. “We haven’t had a ton of continuity all year so that doesn’t change much because guys have been in and out. But he’s a guy that also knows his role and we have sets for him and he’s going to come out and be aggressive. So it’s pretty easy for him to find his spots, but more so with other guys getting used to him getting back and him getting used to what we’ve been doing in the time he’s been gone.”
NBA suspends LeBron James one game, Isaiah Stewart two games for involvement in Sunday’s altercation
Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James has been suspended one game for “recklessly hitting” Detroit Pistons center Isaiah Stewart in the face during their altercation in Sunday’s game, the NBA announced on Monday.
Stewart has been suspended two games for “escalating an on-court altercation by repeatedly and aggressively pursuing” James, who will serve his suspension on Tuesday when the Lakers visit the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
Stewart will miss the Pistons’ home game against Miami on Tuesday and their game Wednesday at Milwaukee. James will forfeit about $284,000 in salary, while Stewart will lose about $45,000.
The incident happened in the third quarter as James and Stewart were jostling for position during a free throw. Their arms appeared to get intertwined and James swung his elbow, striking Stewart, who quickly had blood streaming from above his eye.
Cooler heads seemed to prevail, for a moment. Stewart was guided away from the spot where the contact occurred by teammates and coaches, though he appeared to become more incensed along the way. He then tried to double back and run toward James.
A number of people again blocked his path and made sure the incident didn’t get uglier. Stewart was assessed two technical fouls, James a Flagrant 2, and both players were ejected.
It’s the first suspension in the 19-year career of James, who has won four NBA titles with three teams. The Lakers and Pistons meet again Sunday in Los Angeles.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this story.
Lakers credit Carmelo Anthony for sparking post-tussle comeback vs. Pistons
NEW YORK — LeBron James was flanked by three team security personnel, escorting him off the court in Detroit when he was ejected for just the second time of his 19-year career on Sunday.
Not long after he had another visitor from the team: Los Angeles Lakers forward Carmelo Anthony left the bench to check on James before returning to his teammates to deliver a message: If there was any time for the Lakers to start looking like the team they all believed they are destined to become, no better time than the present.
“I just felt like we needed to all come together, we needed to believe in the bigger picture,” Anthony said on a video conference call on Monday. “And I think at that moment, the way I was just able to grab everybody’s attention in that moment, we were looking for something like that. And last night, it just so happened to be me. Tomorrow, it might be somebody else. But at that moment last night, it was time for something to be said to kind of just get the car rolling. We needed that.”
After assembling one of the most accomplished rosters in league history in the summer, it’s been a rocky road for the Lakers with nearly a quarter of the season in the books. They went winless in the preseason, saw a handful of rotation players suffer injuries, endured a confrontation between teammates in just the second game of the season and then came the James-Isaiah Stewart incident in the star’s second game back following an extended absence because of an abdomen strain.
“It’s unfortunate that we had to go through that situation, but we needed something like that to jumpstart us,” Anthony explained. “We haven’t been tested like that all season, and that was a major, major test that we passed last night.”
L.A. trailed the Pistons, a team that came into the day seven games below .500, by 12 at the time of the ejection and by 15 to start the fourth quarter before the Lakers stormed back with a 37-17 advantage in the final frame to get the win. Anthony’s message seemed to resonate.
“He was great,” a team source present for the huddle told ESPN. “Poised. Calm. Clear. Kept everyone together. Ultimate vet.”
On the court, he helped too, scoring 18 on 5-for-8 shooting and adding two rebounds and two blocks. The Lakers outscored the Pistons by 13 in the 30 minutes he played.
“Melo has been great for us,” Vogel said Sunday after the game. “I can’t say that strongly enough. He really has been a champion for all the causes of what we’re trying to get done. The defensive commitment and buy-in, to trying to play for each other. … He was the one that spoke up, along with others, to say that we can’t let this turn out to be a loss. Like, we got to rally around this. So, credit to him.”
It was a reminder that the 37-year-old Anthony, who joined the Lakers on a veteran’s minimum contract, still carries a certain gravitas, even if he isn’t the superstar he once was.
“Why did I speak up? That’s just, that’s who I am,” Anthony said. “It’s a part of what I do, who I am. … I’m a guy who, I don’t say much, but when it’s time for me to speak up, it just happens, it’s natural. It wasn’t something that was premeditated. It was just at that moment, gather everybody up together. We understood and we saw what was happening. And I said this [Sunday] night, the game could’ve went, it could’ve been worse.”
The Lakers are hoping the worst is over when it comes to the altercation. Coach Frank Vogel said Monday afternoon that the NBA’s investigation into the incident was still open and any further discipline stemming from the run-in had yet to be determined.
“They do the interviews, they talk to all of the parties involved and then they make their decision,” Vogel said. “They’re still in that part of the process.”
When asked how the Lakers would handle potentially missing James for their game Tuesday against the New York Knicks should he be suspended, Anthony did not want to consider not having his teammate on the court for L.A.’s lone trip of the season to Madison Square Garden.
“Well we’re not going to put that energy out there,” he replied. “So we’re not going to even put that energy there.”
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