Photo: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
The Los Angeles Lakers lost last night’s game to the Indiana Pacers 79-77 on a last-second floater by George Hill.However, the result could have been much different.
The Lakers had a rare terrible shooting performance, going 24-of-76 (31.6 per cent) from the field. But the Lakers’ weakness at the free throw line proved to be the team’s ultimate undoing.
The team shot 23-of-43 (53.5 per cent) from the line, leaving 20 significant points on the table. In the final minute, Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace missed four consecutive free throws with the Pacers’ up by one.
The failure at the charity stripe is a real problem for the Lakers moving forward. They are the second-worst free-throw shooting team in the league, hitting just 66.8 per cent per game. And in half of the Lakers’ losses, their missed free throws have outnumbered the margin of victory.
Teams are picking up on it. In the Lakers’ 85-80 win over the Brooklyn Nets last week, Nets head coach Avery Johnson was the first to deploy the ‘Hack-a-Dwight’ method that got his team the lead, but ultimately Kobe Bryant bailed them out.
The Lakers will be able to adjust to head coach Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo offensive scheme and the newly-established lineup will learn to jell, but in a tight contest against the elite teams in the league, one thing the Lakers need to figure out is how to capitalise on those free opportunities.
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