Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni put it best last night after the Lakers’ tough loss to the Miami Heat: "At the end of the night, turnovers killed us."
The Lakers, in the midst of getting some much needed momentum, should have beaten the Miami Heat. And that’s what bothers me the most about the way this game panned out.
It was a pivotal game. But turnovers and poor execution down the stretch turned what could have been a hard fought and signature victory into another loss.
As they tend to do to most teams, the Heat exposed the Lakers' greatest weakness by forcing 20 turnovers. Those 20 extra chances at the bucket weren’t wasted as the defending champs racked up 23 points on the way to their 99-90 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
“(It’s) just disappointing; I thought we played well enough to beat them,” D'Antoni told reporters after the game. “Having 16 turnovers in the first half … led to a lot of points.”
The turnovers in this game where unacceptable, but not unpredictable. What was a shocker to many who watched the game last night was how Kobe Bryant performed through the first three quarters.
Before getting hot for a 13-point fourth quarter, the NBA's leading scorer missed 14 of his first 17 shots.
Bryant took responsibility for his early game slump. “I allowed myself to be too much of a decoy tonight I should have been more aggressive from the start,” he said.
Kobe also gave a lot of the credit to the Miami Heat, who he said have the chemistry to finish things down the stretch.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined for 66 points and were able to make some clutch shots in the fourth quarter.
“We just didn't execute very well, they did,” Kobe added.
The loss aside, the Lakers continue to improve in some key areas- mainly energy, effort and intensity.
“Biggest thing is that our energy is there, and on defense we’re much better,” D’Anoni noted. “We just have to smooth out our offense.”
Dwight Howard, who played a pretty good game (13 points and 16 rebounds) against one of his formal rivals, said it was a tough game.
“But I think for the most part we played hard,” he added. “We fought for 48 minutes and we just came up short. We have to stick together and stay strong.”
Pau Gasol, who managed 12 points and four rebounds in his first game back since being sidelined with a concussion for five games, echoed Howard’s sentiments, saying the team has to “continue to stay together and continue to work in one direction.”
“If we keep the energy, keep active, continue to support each other as a unit, we’ll give ourselves a chance any night,” Gasol added.
Steve Nash, as he has a tendency of doing, kept things in perspective. “I thought we grew a little bit but we still have a lot of growing to do,” he said.
Now at 17-22, the Lakers hope to bounce back against their next opponent, the Toronto Raptors, Sunday morning. They’re going to need to win that game in hopes of starting to string together a series of wins and make a serious run at the playoffs.
You can follow JD Carrere on Twitter at @SportsNetJunkie.