LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers let a 15-point lead slip away and lost to the Los Angeles Clippers on Christmas Day. The Lakers did that by playing really dumb basketball over the final 24 minutes, which included shooting an absurd number of 3-pointers.
As the Clippers out-scored the Lakers 60-43 in the second half the Lakers continued to fire deep shots. The Lakers rank second in the NBA in points in the paint (53.2 per game), yet relied almost exclusively on jump shots down the stretch. It was mind-bogglingly stupid.
On the game, the Lakers were 12-of-45 (26.7 percent) from 3-point range. Players who have been successful from deep this season just kept on shooting. James is shooting 35.6 percent from 3-point range this year and went 2-for-12 from deep against the Clippers. Anthony Davis is shooting 29.8 percent from deep this year and was just 1-for-6. In fact, other than Kyle Kuzma's 4-for-9 performance, the rest of the team hit just 8-of-36 from the outside.
The failure of the team to recognize what works and what doesn't led directly to the loss. In fact, over the last four games, the Lakers have hit a combined 42 of 140 3-pointers, that's 30.0 percent. It's not a coincidence that they've lost all three games. This team isn't built to win from the 3-point line.
The strength of LA's roster is its size and versatility on the interior. James, Davis, JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard can all score inside, while Kyle Kuzma and Rajon Rondo can both get into the paint and score or distribute. Yes, Danny Green and others on the perimeter can hit shots, but that's not the team's backbone.
When LeBron and Davis allow opponents to force them to the perimeter, both players have fallen into a trap. Sure, they can step out and hit shots occasionally but both players need to be in attack mode and scoring in the paint to really be effective. They didn't do that on the biggest stage against the Clippers.
LA's four-game losing streak has shown the team's weakness. The Lakers can be suckered into launching 3-pointers. On Wednesday, they lost to the Clippers because of it.