The Los Angeles Lakers seem to have picked up where they left off last season, holding the NBA’s best record despite the initial sloppiness that crept into their play at the start of the 2020-21 season.
L.A. went through significant roster changes in the weeks following their title in the Orlando bubble. Several influential veterans, including JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo and Danny Green were not kept as the front office looked to further improve the championship roster.
The Lakers ended up replacing them with prolific, offensive-minded players in their prime: Montrezl Harrell and Dennis Schroder, alongside proven veterans Wesley Matthews and Marc Gasol.
The extremely short preseason coupled with personnel changes resulted in rustiness and inconsistency holding the defending NBA champions back during the first games of the new campaign. But the Lakers have bounced back and impressed during their second road trip of the season, first sweeping the Houston Rockets and then notching a dominant 128-99 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday.
Anthony Davis seems encouraged by the progress the defending NBA champions have made — just days after calling the team out for a disappointing showing on the defensive end of the floor in a loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
“We’re starting to find our niche together,” he said. “Dennis and Marc are incorporating themselves into our offense, into our defense. I’m starting to find a rhythm, ‘Bron is finding his rhythm, Kenny is finding his rhythm.”
Davis acknowledged the Lakers were aware it would take time to find the rhythm that characterized their play in the Orlando bubble. But the All-Star emphasized the extra effort of the entire team, including its second unit, over the last week, resulting in three confidence-boosting road wins in a row.
“It’s coming along very well,” Davis said. “Our bench is coming in and doing their job. Trezz, Kuz, A.C., Smoove, all these guys are coming in and doing what they’re supposed to do. We’re starting to put everything together and it showed the last three games.”
LeBron James: Lakers heard Davis ‘loud and clear’
LeBron James thought Davis’ criticism of the Lakers was justified and said his fellow All-Star captain had every right to voice his concerns.
“We thought it was right on point and we were able to follow that with a very good defensive game against Chicago, even though we didn’t score the ball like we were accustomed to,” James said.
“And then we followed it up with another good defensive game. We heard him loud and clear.”
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