The Los Angeles Lakers extended their losing streak to five games when they fell 122-115 to the Brooklyn Nets on Christmas Day.
L.A. missed six players due to injuries and the coronavirus (COVID-19) and gave season debuts to two veterans, Stanley Johnson and Darren Collison, on Saturday. That showed against the Nets as the Lakers faced a 23-point deficit to overcome early in the fourth quarter.
Thanks to a spectacular 39-point performance from LeBron James, L.A. tied the game with 45 seconds left on the clock but didn’t manage to finish the comeback and snatch the win away from Brooklyn’s hands.
Acting head coach David Fizdale said the Lakers don’t panic despite their poor run in recent weeks. Instead, they put in extra effort to get out of the slump.
“There’s two types of ways you can respond to this and that’s the only thing that we can control is our response to a five-game losing streak,” Fizdale said.
“We can either bitch, moan, complain, point fingers, deflect or we can get in the gym and work together. Get in the film sessions and have raw conversations and talk about what we need to do to get better and improve.”
Fizdale added he has been impressed by the Lakers veterans’ leadership and efforts to steady the ship amid the storm with which L.A. has been dealing lately.
“The beauty of our five-game losing streak if there’s any beauty is the leadership that’s rising up from the ashes of this is something to marvel at,” he said.
“You guys don’t get to see this stuff, but to watch LeBron James, AD, Russell Westbrook, and Melo and our veteran guys navigate this and keep our group focused on the main things without pointing fingers is just something to really sit back and enjoy as a coach.
“And to have that for our coaching staff and have those kind of guys who don’t panic or don’t get sick at sea, that’s a real luxury for us. I feel really good about this group and where we’re at and I know everybody’s like ‘Oh man, the Lakers,’ but ultimately, we get our stuff together and you got to beat us in a series, I’m gonna like where we are.”
Fizdale doesn’t know how to improve Lakers’ performance in non-James minutes
The Lakers were again badly outscored when James sat on the bench in the clash with the Nets. They registered a +/- of -16 in the eight minutes the four-time NBA champion wasn’t on the court.
Fizdale said the issue partly stems from the fact the Lakers often deploy players who are unfamiliar with each other during the All-Star’s breaks. But the coach admitted he is yet to figure out how to improve L.A.’s play in non-James minutes.
“Clone him,” Fizdale joked. “We can clone him. Do you know any good scientists? Maybe make a duplicate. I don’t know. We just got to figure that out.
“When we do have those gaps when he’s out of the game, how do we keep that momentum going offensively and defensively? We’ll keep looking at those stretches of the game, keep looking at ways to help our team.”
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