Lakers’ slump continues with frustrating home loss to Heat

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The hope, of course, would be that the time back in Los Angeles would do the Lakers some good. Their coach implored his team that the excuses of the past month — so many of which were valid — needed to end. That the team had to play “consciously competitive consistently” — an alliterative mouthful that Darvin Ham later edited down.

“Flat-out playing hard,” he said pregame Wednesday.

With the Lakers starting their January at home, where they’ll be basically for the entire month, effort wasn’t an issue.

But execution?

They got so little of that right.

Read more: Jaime Jaquez Jr., the steal of the 2023 NBA draft, heats up during his rookie season

The Lakers turned the ball over 22 times and made only four-of-30 three-point shots, losing 110-96 to Miami to drop their ninth game in their last 12.

It’s the first time this team has been below .500 since Nov. 10.

The Lakers were largely a sloppy mess in their first of 11 games in Los Angeles between now and Jan. 27, coughing up the ball crippling amounts while letting the short-handed Heat play in front on a night when they weren’t close to their sharpest.

The Lakers, despite their carelessness, were within two early in the fourth quarter before getting completely bulldozed though the final horn.

Read more: LeBron James slams controversial call after Lakers loss: ‘It’s obvious it’s a three’

Throughout the game, the Lakers’ body language reflected a team in the middle of a horrible slump. LeBron James simply looking to the bench and shrugging after a wasted possession against the Heat’s zone ended with a forced three that he missed.

It was the kind of game, that again, should have the Lakers asking big questions about their road ahead, the NBA’s trade deadline now a little more than a month away.

Pregame, Ham said he and the team looked at itself in the mirror following a 3-8 close to December and concluded “that there’s more than enough in the room.”

And while the Lakers didn’t have everyone available — Rui Hachimura and D’Angelo Russell are day to day with their calf and tailbone injuries — they weren’t missing the kind of player their opponent, the Heat was.

The Lakers’ Jarred Vanderbilt and the Heat’s Kyle Lowry fight for a loose ball at Arena Wednesday. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)Miami played without Jimmy Butler for their 19th time this season, instead getting at least seven points from each of the seven players they played on Wednesday.

The Lakers, in another attempt to kickstart things, returned Austin Reaves to the starting lineup with Cam Reddish while Jared Vanderbilt moved to the bench. (Hachimura started for the Lakers in New Orleans in Reddish’s place).

The move comes, again, as the Lakers have thirsted for some kind of consistency, a quest that’s been undone by injuries and an ongoing search for five Lakers that can consistently play with positive results.

That journey included five first-half minutes for rookie Jalen Hood-Schifino, who missed all four of his field-goal tries. Across the table, Miami rookie and former UCLA star Jaime Jaquez Jr. played a team-high 39 minutes and scored 16 — including a baseline jumper over James.

The Lakers play again on Friday against Memphis.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.


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