Marc Gasol, who had only played five games since the start of March and not broken into double-figure points in any of them, was the only positive on offense in the Los Angeles Lakers’ starting lineup against the Los Angeles Clippers.
That was not a recipe for success. With no other starters even reaching double-digit points, the Lakers suffered their lowest-scoring game of the season and never led in the 104-86 loss to the Clippers.
Gasol scored 11 points in 18 minutes of play. The other four starters, all of whom played at least 28 minutes, combined for 31 points.
The Lakers may have been without stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but head coach Frank Vogel didn’t give an out to his players who did take the court in the 18-point loss, the team’s largest margin of defeat since March 3.
“There’s no excuses here,” he said, according to Spectrum SportsNet. “The guys that are playing have what it takes.”
Their offensive effort couldn’t counter that of Kawhi Leonard and Marcus Morris. Leonard flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 19 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, and Morris had a game-high 22 points on a very efficient 9-for-13 shooting, including 4-for-5 from deep.
The Clippers started to pull away with a 23-10 run over the first nine minutes of the second quarter, and lifted their lead up to 24 before settling in.
The Lakers shot just 40% from the field and were destroyed on the glass by a 50-36 margin. The Clippers’ 13 offensive rebounds were almost twice the number as the Lakers’ seven. And though the Lakers did a good job limiting fouls, committing only 11 during the game, the Clippers made up for it by making 14 for their 28 3-pointers — twice as many makes as the Lakers — and shooting 47.7% from the field.
Gasol went 3-for-3 from deep. The other Lakers starters went 2-for-16. Gasol, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso were the only players on the team to make a 3-pointer.
“We’ve gotta collapse the defense. We’ve gotta screen better. Doing everything a little better and sacrificing for your teammates — sacrificing by cutting, moving, burning the extra calorie for somebody else, creating a vacuum when you cut, is going to force the other team to help,” Gasol said.
“We do it sometimes. … When teams like today are a little more physical, a little more aggressive, with a little more size, that movement’s gonna be even more important.”
With the loss, the Lakers are now tied for fourth place in the Western Conference with the Denver Nuggets, who play Sunday night. The Clippers gain a game on the Lakers to elevate their lead in third place.