Darvin Ham Laughs At Concept Of Lakers Throwing Play-In Tournament Game Vs. Pelicans
Darvin Ham, Lakers, Pelicans, Play-In Tournament
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers set themselves up for a 2023 Western Conference Finals rematch in the first round, as they face the Denver Nuggets after winning the Play-In Tournament against the New Orleans Pelicans. But given the way that last year’s meeting with the Nuggets went in the postseason, there was legitimate consideration from fans as to whether or not Darvin Ham and the Lakers should intentionally lose to the Pelicans on Tuesday.

Losing against the Pelicans would have set up a win or go home Play-In Game against the Sacramento Kings, with the winner taking the No. 8 seed and a matchup with the young Oklahoma City Thunder. The Lakers have fared much better against the Thunder this year than the Nuggets — 3-1 compared to 0-3 — meaning they may have stood a better chance as the No. 8 seed.

But Ham and the Lakers were never seriously considering that. In fact, Ham laughed at the concept of the Lakers throwing a Play-In Tournament game because of who their postseason opponent would be, via Spectrum SportsNet:

“There was a report of what? Insane asylum sources say. Nah. It was someone that just got out of the insane asylum.”

Focusing in on the game, Ham praised the Lakers for remaining focused and staying ahead when the Pelicans made their pushes throughout the contest.

“Just the grit. The grit of our group. Had a little bit of a cushion, they did what we thought they were gonna do and made their run, threw some heavy blows at us. They kept swinging, we kept fighting back. Meet force with force. Blessing to Willie (Green) and his staff, his crew. That’s a hard ballclub to play. Their length, their athleticism, their skill, their ability to shoot the ball. Zion and his nonstop relentlessness, attacking downhill. That’s a hell of a team we just got past. But it revealed a lot about us and what we’re made of, the way these two games went. One was a fairly big cushion throughout the game and then tonight was hard fought, as we anticipated. So I’m just proud of our guys just doing the little things, taking charges, whether it was Bron or different people taking charges, coming up with big defensive rebounds. DLo getting back, sprinting back and coming up with a huge steal late, hitting a huge bucket in front of their bench to go up four. Guys stepping up making their free throws. It was a lot. We had some point blank shots that we missed that we normally make, but we didn’t hang our heads, we just kept fighting.”

The Lakers could have easily done what they needed to do to try and avoid the Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs. However, the risk was simply too great for that to ever be a real topic of discussion. Instead, the Lakers are going to need to face their demons from last season early and hope they can overcome it.

Lakers-Nuggets first round schedule and TV info

The full schedule and TV info for the Lakers’ first round matchup with the defending champion Nuggets can be found HERE.

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