Lakers struggle on offense, drop second California Classic game


Los Angeles Lakers guard Dalton Knecht (4) looks to shoot past Golden State Warriors forward Ethan Thomopson (55) during the first half of an NBA summer league basketball game in San Francisco, Sunday, July 7, 2024. (AP Photo/Nic Coury)

The Lakers’ start to the first weekend of summer league play has been plagued with inconsistency, especially for the team’s first-round pick, Dalton Knecht.

The rookie from Tennessee has had rough performances in back-to-back losses for the Lakers during the California Classic at Chase Center. On Sunday, the guard struggled to knock down shots consistently in the team’s 92-68 loss to the Golden State Warriors.

Knecht finished with 12 points, one assist and two rebounds in 22 minutes. He made only three of 13 shots from the field and one of three on three-pointers, with much of his scoring coming from the free-throw line.

This performance was similar to the day before when he shot three for 12 from the field and one of four from beyond the arc, also scoring 12 points, in a loss to the Sacramento Kings.

Before this weekend, Knecht had not played a full game since March. He acknowledged that finding his rhythm and adjusting to the NBA game is essential for his success.

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Unfazed by his poor shooting performance to start, Knecht emphasized the importance of getting to his spots and making shots. Throughout the game, Knecht looked confident every time he released a shot.

“Shooters shoot,” Knecht said. “My dad always told me the next one is going in, so shoot.”

After a slow start to the game, Knecht became more aggressive in the second half, taking more shots. The Lakers began facilitating the offense through him to get him open looks, but unfortunately he could not get much to fall.

At the start of the second half, Knecht showcased his athleticism by driving through the lane and soaring to the rim for a two-handed dunk.

“I was trying to put it on someone’s head, like I did against Michigan State,” Knecht said about his highlight dunk.

A few plays later, he nearly made another highlight dunk but instead converted a contested layup, resulting in a three-point play.

Knecht eventually found some rhythm as the game progressed, but he sat out the fourth quarter.

Lakers summer league coach Dane Johnson recognized that Knecht’s development will take time, stressing the importance of patience as he adjusts to the NBA level. He spoke highly of Knecht’s shooting ability and aims to help him expand his volume of shots.

But to do so, Knecht needs to allow the game to unfold naturally without forcing plays.

“It’s going to come,” Johnson said. “He’s a great player, so I’m not worried about him making or missing some of these shots. He’s going to knock down shots going forward.”

The Lakers are scheduled to play Wednesday against the Miami Heat before heading to Las Vegas for the NBA summer league.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.



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