Los Angeles Lakers legend and former Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson was befuddled by L.A.’s game plan in Thursday’s series-ending loss to the Phoenix Suns.
Johnson highlighted three things he perceived as flaws in the Lakers game plan in Game 6. Magic said L.A. appeared to lack the passion and fire of a team facing elimination. He also wondered whether head coach Frank Vogel should have gone with a small-ball lineup earlier in the game:
“The Lakers did 3 things wrong last night. 1) They waited until the 2nd half to start playing with passion and fire on both ends of the court, 2) waited too long to play the small team which actually fueled their comeback to get within 10 of the Suns…” Johnson tweeted.
Johnson was also appalled the Lakers did not send hard doubles at Suns guard Devin Booker, who burned L.A. for 22 points in the first quarter after scoring 18 in the first period of Game 5. He ended up with 47 for the game:
“And 3) waited too late to double team Booker who ended up with 47. He had 18 points in the first quarter in Game 5 & ended up with 30,” Johnson added. “Last night he scored 22 in the 1st quarter & 33 by half. Why did the Lakers wait until the 2nd half of an elimination game to double team him????”
The latter tweet feels especially pertinent. The Lakers had success defending Booker in Game 2 and Game 3 because they hedged hard on screen-and-rolls and barely allowed him any space on the perimeter.
Then again, the series changed pretty drastically after Anthony Davis went down in Game 4. Perhaps it’s just as simple as the Lakers not being good enough without AD on the floor.