Learning from Defeat: Lakers Analyze Loss to Magic for Improvement

It wasn’t too complicated to figure out what went wrong in the Lakers’ 120-101 loss to the Magic on Saturday. Here are the key takeaways from a game in which the Lakers never threatened.
Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) drives while defended by Orlando Magic center Goga Bitadze (35) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)

Beaten on the boards

Coach Darvin Ham didn’t mince words when talking about his team’s defensive rebounding, a hole so glaring that Orlando grabbed 19 offensive rebounds and scored 36 second-chance points.

“You can’t scheme rebounding. You’ve got to want to get the damn ball. Plain and simple,” Ham said. “The shot goes up, if your opponent is in your area, you’ve got to get hits, put bodies on bodies and be the most aggressive one to the ball. That’s it. There’s no play I can draw up to get more rebounds. There’s no play I can draw up to have more guys there. And when we do have more guys there, we’re showing clips with four or five white jerseys and one blue jersey in the middle and that blue jersey is coming up with the ball. I don’t know.

“Again, it’s something we’ve got to continuously work at and acknowledge when we’re doing it good, and do a good job and when we do a poor job. Last game, we did a pretty good job with that. We had three guys double-digit rebounds. Tonight, it just wasn’t there.”

Anthony Davis said if he were trying to beat the Lakers, he’d send waves of players at the glass.

“I mean, I would,” Davis said. “The scouting report: attack the glass, get out and run. I mean, that’s been our Achilles’ heel. That’s what’s going to lose us games. We know our problem. We got to fix it.”

The Lakers have been outscored 117-54 on second-chance points.

“We’ve got to figure it out because that’s definitely been our trend,” LeBron James said. “Offensive rebounds, points off turnovers. We do a good job of getting a stop on the first possession, but we allow offensive rebounds and then we allowed them to score off the offensive rebounds. So, we got to do a better job of that and get that under wraps.”

Falling behind fast

If it wasn’t the rebounding, another familiar problem cost the Lakers on Saturday. For the fifth time in six games , the team fell behind by at least 10 points in the first quarter.

“Just their effort. Their energy. They’re down bodies. We’re down bodies. And so the game basically comes down to approach, mental approach,” Ham said. “Their energy, their effort, they outworked us. And because of that energy and effort, they saw the ball go in. They did a great job of just playing fast continuously, covering for one another defensively and just pounding us on the glass.”

Lakers head coach Darvin Ham rubs his temples as he reacts to a play along the sideline.


Lakers coach Darvin Ham had plenty to be critical of after a loss to Orlando on Saturday night. (Gary McCullough / Associated Press)

Cam Reddish, who played key minutes in the Lakers’ win on Thursday, struggled in Orlando. But he was far from alone.

“Seems like it’s our energy. Other teams are coming out and playing a little bit more aggressive,” Davis said. “It’s not even a skill or talent. It’s the offensive rebounds, turnovers leading to transition points, 50-50 balls. It’s those types of plays that get us down. Those are things that we have to come out with a mind-set to start the fourth quarter that we’re going to control those things. Any time we’re able to hold a team to one shot, it’s hard to beat us. But we haven’t been able to do that.”

Reinforcements coming?

After the game, Ham said Taurean Prince and Rui Hachimura would undergo evaluations Sunday, perhaps clearing the way for one or both to get back on the court Monday in Miami against the Heat.

“It definitely helps when you have bigger bodies. I mean, we have three of our bigger bodies out right with injuries in Rui, [Jarred Vanderbilt] and TP. So, I mean, it would help,” James said. “But we definitely got to do a better job of, when we do box out, of helping. Sometimes we’re doubling guys and we get a free crasher that’s coming in to crash the glass. Sometimes we’re just ball watching and giving up offensive rebounds. So that’s something that we got to look on in film and see which ways that we can be better.”

Rough one for Russell

D’Angelo Russell was one of the most vocal players in Austin Reaves’ ear, encouraging him to shoot through his mini-slump to start the season.

After Russell shot one for 10 from three-point range Saturday, Reaves said he’d be willing to return the favor — if it was necessary.

Magic guard Anthony Black, left, tries to cut off a drive by Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell.


Magic guard Anthony Black, left, tries to cut off a drive by Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell, who missed nine of his 10 shots from deep on Saturday. (Gary McCullough / Associated Press)

“One thing about DLo is I don’t have to say anything to him. Obviously, I do. Just because our relationship and how close we’ve gotten on and off the court, but one thing DLo don’t lack is confidence,” Reaves said. “It’s a beautiful thing to see sometimes, because I feel like if everybody had that confidence, then some people would be better off. But yeah, I don’t think he played a bad game tonight. Struggled shooting the ball. But that happens.

“And a lot of people will go back and trash him for the game that he had, but that’s all it is. Nobody’s worried about him.”

Reaves gets back and James still rolls

After a strong second half in the Lakers’ win against the Clippers, Reaves had his best offensive game of the season Saturday, scoring 20 on seven-for-11 shooting, including three three-point shots.

“I was really just playing the game the way that I’ve always played the game. Confident. Just play hard. And play the right way,” Reaves said. “Yeah, that’s really it.”

James played 35 minutes, he and Reaves the only Lakers who finished with a positive plus-minus.

James scored 24 on Saturday and the Lakers have outscored teams by 57 points when he has been on the court.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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