Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse for the Lakers, they went out and lost 107-105 to the absolutely roster-gutted Blazers on Wednesday to fall to 26-30 on the season, six games back of a top-six playoff spot.
This was not one of those games worthy of a nuanced discussion. The Lakers simply stunk, as they have most of the season. They had LeBron James and Anthony Davis in uniform and presumably healthy and even enjoyed the addition-by-subtraction benefit of Russell Westbrook not playing.
Meanwhile, the Blazers, who were already without Damian Lillard, just traded CJ McCollum, Norman Powell, Robert Covington and Larry Nance Jr. Portland’s nine-man rotation would’ve had Charles Barkley hilariously baffled in a TNT “who he play for?” segment.
Trendon Watford. Greg Brown III. Keljin Blevins. CJ Elleby, Justise Winslow and Ben McLemore started alongside Anfernee Simons and Jusuf Nuric. Simons scored the Blazers’ final eight points. He didn’t get the memo. Portland is tanking.
And that’s just it: The Lakers, with LeBron and Davis in action, couldn’t manage to beat a team that actually wants to lose. This is rock bottom. And that’s saying something because this season has been one dumpster fire after another for the Lakers.
Even Magic Johnson — who we all know usually has a razor-sharp way with words on Twitter (wink) — doesn’t know what to say.
James Worthy called it “the lowest point of just about any Lakers season I’ve seen over the years.”
The Lakers increasingly look like a team that has give up. LeBron full-on cherry-picked a layup in the closing minute of the game, not even trying to get back on defense amid a chaotic sequence. Rebounding is probably the stat that can be most closely tied to effort, and despite the Blazers missing 14 more shots than the Lakers, Anthony Davis was out-rebounded by the likes of Justise Winslow and CJ Elleby.
So now here we are ticking down to the 3 p.m. ET trade deadline on Thursday, and what can the Lakers do? Everyone with any interest in seeing this season turn around wants Westbrook traded, but will that happen? For a second there was some hope that a Horton-Tucker trade might materialize with Toronto, but that was quickly squashed.
Westbrook might not be the Lakers’ only problem, but when you add up his own detrimental play with the players the Lakers lost in a trade for him in the first place, he’s the eye of the storm.
And when I say the players the Lakers gave up for Westbrook, that’s not just Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma but also potentially Buddy Hield, who was reportedly basically on his way to the Lakers before LeBron and Davis chimed in about wanting Westbrook instead.
Instead, the Lakers, even with LeBron still clearly one of the best players in the league, have turned into this. Yikes.