The Los Angeles Lakers didn’t have a particularly merry Christmas Day morning, approaching the holiday game with Brooklyn Nets on a four-game losing streak.
L.A.’s recent stretch has been its worst since the start of the 2021-22 season. With injuries and the coronavirus (COVID-19) keeping a third of the roster out of games, the Purple and Gold has had by far the worst net rating over the previous four outings (-16.5), edging the second-last Sacramento Kings by 5.4 points per 100 possessions.
Even when it seems like the Lakers have weathered the storm, new dark clouds appear on the horizon. Kent Bazemore and Trevor Ariza entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols around the time Talen Horton-Tucker and Dwight Howard tested out of them.
But the Lakers try to stay positive. Howard said the many hurdles L.A. has had to overcome this year will only strengthen the team.
“We just got to stay locked in, stay together, I think it’s just a rough patch that we’re dealing with right now, it’s looking bad but we’re gonna stay together, we’re gonna stay strong and we’re gonna get out of this,” the 36-year-old center said.
“This point of the season that we’re dealing with, we’re gonna get out of it, and when we do, we’re gonna look back and say something that we needed. So we’ll be alright.”
But while they keep their spirits up, the Lakers still want to hold each other accountable. Howard said the players acknowledge they have plenty of work to do if they want L.A. to play up to its potential.
“We always have to be truthful, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to stay positive,” Howard said.
“You can speak truths and still speak positivity in any situation. So obviously, we’re grown men, we’re able to face getting in each other’s faces and having tough conversations, but at the end of the day, we got to still stick together.
It sounds cliche, it sounds like something that anybody will say, but it’s just the truth. Right now, we should be saying it’s this person’s fault or that person’s fault or blaming each other. We got to stick together.
“We got to figure out how we’re gonna get out of this mud together because we can’t do it on our own. As much as we can try to do it by ourselves, it’s gonna take each and every person to win these games.”
Howard emphasized the importance of collective effort in facing adversity, especially considering the Lakers’ rivals will oftentimes face them with extra motivation.
“You watch these teams play, and they’re giving us their best shot,” Howard said.
“It seems like guys aren’t missing shots every night; we’re getting teams’ best punches. And I think all of these tests we’re dealing with is really just a test of our character.
“So as bad as it seems right now, we stick together and stay positive and stay locked in and go harder in the gym when we don’t have games, it’s gonna turn around for us. And I know it will.
“So I’m gonna speak positivity in this situation. I know you guys have to do your job and say the Lakers might be bad right now, but it’s OK. This is gonna turn around.”
Lakers sign Darren Collison and Stanley Johnson to 10-day contracts
The Lakers have signed Darren Collison and Stanley Johnson to 10-day contracts, trying to provide the coronavirus-stricken team with extra support.
Collison and Johnson join Isaiah Thomas, Jemerrio Jones, and Mason Jones, among the players who have bolstered L.A.’s roster this month.