On Friday night, the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Indiana Pacers in spite of one of the most embarrassing stat lines in recent history.
Despite coming away with the 99-86 victory on what was the second night of Indiana’s back-to-back, the Lakers shot a putrid 2-for-14 from the free throw line.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, the 14.3 percentage was the lowest by any team in NBA history with a minimum of 10 attempts.
Although Friday was a bit of a negative outlier, the Lakers’ free throw struggles have been well-documented this season. In fact, they are the worst team in the Association from the charity stripe, shooting just 68.8 percent as a team. Not a single player is shooting 77 percent or better, which might be even more surprising.
"Man, that free throw line, it's like a virus or something," said guard Jordan Clarkson after Friday’s game, per ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. "Snowball effect? I don't know. It was crazy. Isn't that like a record or something? Good for us,” said forward Larry Nance Jr.
"Speaking strictly for myself, I am shooting the worst that I have in like three years (61 percent). It is not saying much, but it is not for a lack of practice. I am in here shooting free throws every single day. I don't know what it is. Probably got some kind of mental block as a team going on,” Nance continued.
Apparently coach Luke Walton also believes that his team’s struggles are more of a mental than a physical issue.
"It is very confusing," Walton said about his team’s awful free-throw shooting. "Free throws are more mental than anything. We talk about it, we work on it. Then I try to not talk about it, let it just happen naturally. I think we got up over 70 (percent) as a team before last night, but it kills us. It hurts us. It's hurt us in a lot of games this year. But like everything else, hard work and confidence is normally the way to fix things. ... They're all very capable free throw shooters, so it's not like they don't have the skill to knock them down. We just have to clear our minds and take it for what it is, which is just one shot at a time and step up there and knock it down."
That’s why he has employed a renowned member of the meditation community to work with his squad.
Walton has scheduled monthly meditation sessions with Andy Puddicombe, co-founder of a popular meditation and mindfulness app company called Headspace.
"I was thinking about having (Puddicombe) try to focus on some sort of relaxing mechanism while you step up to the line, but we haven't brought in anyone (experts) yet. ... Meditation is very hard. We're gonna keep doing it in hopes that some of the young guys can pick it up and get into it,” Walton explained.
Although some players have apparently bought into the idea, Walton understands that his team is youthful and therefore might be resistant to the idea of giving 100-percent effort when it comes to the concept of meditation.
"There's always guys that aren't going to understand it and like it, but if we can get two, three, four, five of the guys to embrace it," the coach admitted. "I'm a big believer in you train your muscles in the weight room, you train your skills out here on the court."
He added, ”Your mind is like a muscle, it can be trained. It needs work, it needs quiet time, especially in today's world that we live in with social media and constant stimulation to your phone all day. It's important for guys to understand you can train your mind to gain an advantage in this sport that we play.”
According to Walton, the team’s next appointment with Puddicombe is in February, right after the team returns from a five-game road trip.
However, judging by Friday’s performance, he might want to schedule an emergency session.News Now - Sport News