There haven’t been many times this season where the Los Angeles Lakers have possessed a clean injury report. Already without LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Jared Dudley, the list expanded with Andre Drummond suffering a toe contusion in his debut against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night.
Injuries are usually common occurrences in a normal season, but this year has also brought additional challenges with health and safety protocols because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Both Marc Gasol and Dennis Schroder, two prominent members of the Lakers’ rotation, have missed crucial time because of it, as did Alex Caruso early in the season.
The Lakers have needed to overcome significant hurdles as their superstar duo remains sidelined. Seeing Drummond, who L.A. hoped would ease some of the challenges, leave with an injury could dampen the team’s morale further.
Along with devising a gameplan to replace the production James and Davis left behind, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel has had to maintain a positive mentality. He explained how the squad copes when seeing the injuries mount.
“We don’t worry about that,” Vogel said. “We’re about the guys in uniform. We know we have enough, we have a deep team. We’ve been playing really good basketball, getting better each game during this stretch. We’re confident that we can win. The schedule gets really tough over the next couple weeks, but our group is going to keep working. We’re going to grind, we’re going to prepare. We’re going to believe in one another. We expect to win.”
Vogel added how he infuses confidence in the players amidst the injuries.
“Show them when we execute and play the right way, it doesn’t matter who is in front of us,” Vogel said. “We’re going to score the ball at a high rate, we’re going to get high-quality looks and we know we have a great deal of confidence in what we can do defensively.”
The Lakers have remained an elite defensive team in spite of the countless setbacks they’ve dealt with. Hitting shots has been the primary focus as Los Angeles hasn’t shot well lately, and that showed against the Milwaukee Bucks. After a hot first quarter from 3-point range, L.A. hit a wall and couldn’t make anything, even if they were wide open.
Vogel explained how the Lakers must execute on both ends of the floor to win games.
“If you defend at a high level, you’ve got a chance every night. That’s what our guys definitely believe in and we’re working the offense to continue to generate good shots. We shot really well to start the game tonight.
“I thought we were going to have a reverse from the other night and be really hot, but we cooled down after that. We just focus on what we can control. Our execution pieces when done at a high level can beat anybody and that’s what we’re believing in.”
Vogel shows Lakers positive film to instill confidence
When losses pile up — and it has for the Lakers recently — it’s easy to delve into the tape for everything going wrong. However, Vogel explained that he also shows L.A. what they’re doing right so they can keep improving on what’s functioning properly.
“Always. There’s always positives in the film,” Vogel said. “It’s very instructional. … The right way to play offensively, we can do this possession after possession after possession and we see the shots that we generate. We believe in that type of action, so this group is going to continue to believe.”
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