Lakers coach Luke Walton was willing to shoulder the blame after his team fell, 131-120, to the Bucks following a costly turnover in the final minutes of Friday’s game.
Walton called a timeout with less than two minutes to go as the Lakers were down by just three points. The play was designed to give LeBron James the ball and space to make an attack, but Walton said there was an error in his communication.
Walton explained he failed to emphasize to his players that they needed to inbound the ball cleanly from the baseline, which resulted in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope turning the ball over before it got to James.
“I’ll take that responsibility,” Walton said after the loss, via ESPN. “I took for granted that we’d get the ball inbounds. That is on me. We have an extra timeout, we’ve got to take it. We can’t afford to turn that ball over right there. But they came up with the press, and we didn’t get open and at that point we probably should have called that last timeout. I know guys always want to save them, but it was a costly play in the game.”
🎥 Luke was pleased with the way the team played for most of the game but felt individual defense struggled. pic.twitter.com/GjyEhJxOLh
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) March 2, 2019
Caldwell-Pope addressed the turnover after the game, explaining what went wrong.
“I was just looking for someone to get open. I could’ve run the baseline and I didn’t,” he said.
James added: “We blew it.”
Los Angeles led by as many as 12 points midway through the third quarter before blowing the lead, which marks the seventh time this season that the Lakers have lost after holding a double-digit lead in the second half this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
“I mean, listen, this is win or lose. And obviously you want to build, but it’s win or lose in that particular moment,” James said. “Tomorrow, we’ve got to be great tomorrow in the next game. We can’t say, ‘OK, we were great three quarters, three-and-a-half quarters versus Milwaukee, we can carry that.’ Nope, we can’t do that. We have to be great against Phoenix and hit the restart button.”
The Lakers fell to 30-32 with the loss to sit 10th in the Western Conference, while the Bucks improved to 48-14 to remain at the top of the East.