The Lakers lost to the Cavs 98-95, squandering an opportunity to tie the game after Luke Walton refused to take a potential game-tying three, instead deferring to a helpless Kobe who watched time expire without putting up a shot.
After the game, Coach Jackson said that despite the team’s poor execution on the final play and Walton’s reluctance to shoot, the game was lost long before that.
“The game wasn’t won or lost on that sequence,” said Jackson. “We had a little lead, nine point lead, we gave up a four point play.”
“We ran our last second play and I was hoping to get the shot off… I kind of fumbled the ball a little bit, wasn’t aware the clock was as low as it was, and as soon as I passed it back to Kobe, I realized that that was a mistake, and unfortunately it cost us big,” said Walton.
The Lakers looked as if they had control of the game for parts of the fourth quarter before LeBron James—41 points—took over and sealed the Lakers’ fate as part of a critical 13-2 run by the Cavs.
“We were playing really well and had momentum, but we made mistakes,” said Jackson. “Kobe had a charge late in the ball game, and we did some things that turned the ball over and that changes the course of the game.”
Despite scoring 33 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, Jackson said it looked as if Kobe tired down the stretch.
“He was short, his shot didn’t look good,” Jackson said. “I thought he was tired, he played the whole half up until that period in time. I just thought his shot was array because he was probably tired.”
Long before the second half, play was stopped for approximately 15 minutes due to a leak in the STAPLES Center roof that was dropping water onto the court underneath the Lakers’ basket. Jackson said that the lengthy delay had a negative impact on some of his players.
“We’ll I noticed it effected Fish a little bit,” said Jackson. “I got him back in the game; I think he probably sat for a half an hour by that time. It just looked like he got stiff and reaction time it took to get him going back took a little bit of time. That just really changed the momentum of the game, made it a very stogy first half and nothing really happened out there.”
With a nine game road trip looming after the Lakers play the Knicks on Tuesday, Jordan Farmar and Bryant said that the team needs to shore up a few holes of its own.
“We have to continue to play together. No matter who’s on the floor, who’s injured… we have to continue to play together and use each other’s strengths in order to be successful, and that’s both on the offensive end and defensive end,” said Farmar.
“First of all, we just have to keep playing. Just keeping working forward, not get too discouraged,” said Bryant. “Come to practice the next day, work hard and get ready for the next game.”