After a tough Saturday night loss by the Los Angeles Lakers, the Pittsburgh Steelers are, as the kids say, catching a stray.
Following a 120-101 loss to the Orlando Magic, Lakers star LeBron James compared his team’s struggles to the Steel City.
“We’re like the Pittsburgh Steelers right now.” James said post-game. “The Pittsburgh Steelers right now have not out-gained or out-scored any of their opponents in this season right now and yet they’ve got a winning record.”
Like the Steelers, the Lakers had trouble putting up points on the board. They were outscored in every single quarter except the fourth, when they held a narrow and low-scoring 21-19 edge. The Lakers dropped to 3-3 on the season.
As James noted, the Lakers and Steelers have gotten off to slow starts in games. Pittsburgh notched their first scoring drive of the season against the Tennessee Titans, their first TD on an opening drive since Week 15 of last season.
But as James also noted, Pittsburgh has found ways to win in spite of their issues. Not only have they been out-gained in every game this season, they have also run fewer plays and had fewer first downs than their opponent in all eight games. If you reverse the outcome of all five of the team’s one score games this season, Pittsburgh would be 0-8. Their five wins in one-possession games leads the NFL.
With their latest loss, the Lakers moved into the bottom half of scoring teams this offseason. James is looking for success in one of the final years of his NBA career. He contemplated retirement after last year but announced he would return for at least another season.
It’s not the first time over the last week James has weighed in on the Steelers. On Twitter, he picked the Tennessee Titans to beat the Steelers Thursday night. Fortunately, that outcome didn’t prove to be true.
James joked to reporters he’s going to stop picking against Pittsburgh.
“I think I’m Mike Tomlin’s lucky charm because every time I pick against them, they win,” James said.
Pittsburgh used another late comeback to beat Tennessee, 20-16. Still, their offense was plagued by the issues they’ve faced throughout the year as one of the NFL’s worst-scoring teams, though they got off to a faster start.
Both teams will try to fix their scoring struggles the rest of the way. James will look to lead the Lakers while QB Kenny Pickett will command the Steelers, though Pickett’s career arc is a far cry from James’.
James and company will look for a faster start Monday when they play his former team, the Miami Heat. Pittsburgh will look for a winning streak when they host the Green Bay Packers next Sunday.