Los Angeles Lakers stars have said in unison that they stay optimistic ahead of the 2021-22 season’s tip-off despite going through the preseason winless.
Anthony Davis claimed that L.A.’s play looked better than the results would suggest having watched game film over the last two weeks. LeBron James pointed out the emerging chemistry between the new-look Lakers. Meanwhile, Russell Westbrook said he was excited about the team’s pace and athleticism.
Westbrook and James offered a taste of L.A.’s withering tempo in the 116-112 loss to the Sacramento Kings, tormenting rival defenders with aggressive drives into the paint.
Head coach Frank Vogel has joined his All-Stars in brushing the six straight losses aside. However, he admitted that the early injury wave that hit L.A. was an unfortunate blow.
“Not concerning,” Vogel said, commenting on the Lakers’ preseason. “You don’t want to go winless. You want to get a couple of wins along the way just to feel what that’s like and that’s the name of the game. We’re here to win basketball games.
“At the end of the day, it’s really about the practice work that we’re putting in,” he explained. “These are practice games where you are working on things. Your building rhythm and timing and all those things. Getting to the finish line of the preseason healthy. That’s the biggest thing. You get as much rhythm and timing as you can while remaining healthy. Obviously, I don’t think we finished any of our fourth quarters with our main group.”
Echoing Westbrook, Vogel named the Lakers’ pace as the trait the team can be excited about. The coach praised his players for putting in hard work during the preseason to ensure they can take advantage of their strength and vigor once the new campaign begins.
“Well, I think our pace is really good,” Vogel said. “I think we really committed to it. In these preseason games, our guys are really playing to exhaustion, which is what we’re asking of them. You push the pace and your legs get a little tired tonight, but your legs get stronger tomorrow.
“Pushing through that stuff and playing to exhaustion in these last couple of preseason games is going to make us stronger on opening night. I still think we got a long way to go on the defensive end with getting everybody integrated and up to speed with how we do things,” Vogel noticed. “Every time we touch the floor there’s growth and improvement. I thought there was a huge positive tonight.”
Wayne Ellington to be re-evaluated in 1 week
Wayne Ellington became the recent Laker to suffer a preseason injury. A recent MRI revealed a Grade 1 strain in his hamstring.
Vogel said the shooting guard will be re-evaluated in one week. It remains to be seen whether Ellington will be available for Opening Night on Oct. 19.
Malik Monk and Kendrick Nunn had received a similar timeline after they suffered minor injuries earlier during the preseason.
Trevor Ariza and Talen Horton-Tucker are still weeks away from returning as they recover from knee and thumb surgeries, respectively.
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