The Los Angeles Lakers suffered a difficult loss at the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night, dropping them to four games below .500 amid a desperate race to stay afloat in the Western Conference postseason standings.
L.A. got some help from the teams directly above them in the standings, meaning they are still just one game behind the No. 9 seed and two games behind the No. 8 seed. Head coach Darvin Ham — still in his rookie campaign — is now tasked with trying to motivate his team through an uphill battle.
Following Friday’s loss, Ham was asked about the level to which the Lakers are locked in mentally. “Well, I think when you’re trying to go out each and every day. Gameday, non-gameday and you’re trying to see how you can be the best version of yourself, I don’t see why or how that can be pressing,” Ham said.
“We’re in this position. We’ve told our team. We have to take them one game at a time. We can’t be locked in for two and a half, three hours out of a 24-hour day?”
Ham also zoomed out to a wider lens to implore his team to stay mentally focused for the team’s final 18 games. “I’ve been around this game for 26 years. Multiple championships. Multiple trips, as a player and a coach, to the postseason. If someone has to tell you that you can’t be locked in. We do basketball for a living. Someone shouldn’t have to tell you to be locked in.
“We get paid millions of dollars to do basketball for a living, which only takes, whether it’s a practice, a shootaround, a game, anywhere from an hour to sometimes 45 minutes to two and a half, three hours. A sport. We’re not digging ditches all day. We’re not doing construction risking our lives,” Ham said. “We’re doing basketball for a living and we’re playing for one of the most recognizable, historic franchises on the face of the earth. The most.
“If that doesn’t motivate you to go out and try to be the best version of yourself, I don’t know what will. And we talk about it. We pour into our players to try to make them better individually and collectively. And so, we’re going to keep preaching it and harping on it until there’s no time left and there’s just no chance of us doing it. But until then, we’re putting our best foot forward every day. Trust me.”
The Lakers simply have to lock in for another 18 games. Even without LeBron James available for a majority of those outings, L.A. has every ability to surpass some of the teams in front of them and earn themselves a spot in the postseason.
For Ham, it’s about staying locked in for the entirety of a game and understanding when a game is a must-win. L.A. has one more bout with the Timberwolves before the end of the season and face nearly every team within five spots of them in the Western Conference playoff picture.
Stephen Curry targeting return vs. Lakers
Golden State Warriors star guard Stephen Curry has missed his team’s last 11 games with a lower leg injury. The Warriors have stayed afloat nicely during that team, but they’ll be ecstatic to get their superstar back in the lineup.
His goal date to return is officially Sunday against the Lakers, making it a must-win game for both sides.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!