Darvin Ham Believes Playoff Race Has Forced Lakers To Lock In More
Darvin Ham, Lakers
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers find themselves right in the thick of an extremely tight race to get into the Western Conference Play-In Tournament. Every time Darvin Ham’s team has taken the floor since the All-Star break, that contest has had a big impact on their place in the standings.

Because of how close all of these teams are, one win or one loss could push the Lakers up or down a spot or two. Essentially, the Lakers have to treat every game like a playoff contest otherwise they could find themselves on the outside looking in when the postseason begins.

Having that much pressure for an extended period of time could lead to mental fatigue in a lot of cases, but Darvin Ham doesn’t believe that’s the case for these Lakers. On the contrary, according to Dan Woike of the L.A. Times, Ham believes this playoff race has caused them to lock in even more:

“It’s caused them to come to the game on high alert and high awareness,” he said. “Just having something to play for. You’d be surprised how comfortable guys are with that as opposed to having to play a meaningless game. The fact that these games carry so much weight, I think, is causing our guys to lock in more. I don’t see any stress. I just see guys figuring it out because they want to be a part of this team getting into the postseason and making a run.

“So the stress, the anxiety, I don’t see that. My coaching staff and I, we talked about that this morning, they don’t see that from our players. I see a bit of hunger.”

The Lakers are 8-5 since the All-Star break despite playing most of it without LeBron James. As Ham said, the team is locking in and working hard to figure things out as everyone has that same goal of making the playoffs and are willing to do whatever it takes to get there.

With 10 games left, the Lakers are well within reach of that playoff spot as long as they finish strong. The road is still not easy, but as long as they continue to use this pressure to focus more and don’t crack under the weight, the Lakers will find themselves in the playoffs when the season ends.

Darvin Ham, Lakers coaching staff working to get Anthony Davis more touches

If the Lakers have any chance at success it will have to involve Anthony Davis being the dominant force he is capable of being. That hasn’t been the case over the last week or so, however, as Davis has struggled to get going offensively with teams selling out to limit the damage he does.

But Darvin Ham says he and the coaches are working to figure out ways to get him more touches.

“We’ll find that. We’ll move him around,” Ham said. “It’s easier to do that when he’s trying to post up. But when he’s on the run, he’s trailing the play and we’re able to flip the ball back to him and have him face up in the middle of the floor, it’s a lot more difficult to guard him and double-team him.

“So we’ll move him around in different spaces, playing in transition, pick-and-rolls, DHO actions and try to see that.”

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