The Los Angeles Lakers are riding high after a blowout 126-99 win over the New Orleans Pelicans. They have surprised fans and pundits alike with their strong play this season, leading to a record of six wins and four losses through the first 10 games of the season. As of now, they are tied for sixth place in the Western Conference, though it’s still very early.
The Lakers’ success is partly due to a change in attitude compared to last season. New head coach Luke Walton has brought in a positive, team-first approach to the club, and it has resonated with the players. They now approach every game as one that they should win, and believe that no lead is insurmountable. Second-year guard D’Angelo Russell‘s comments after the game against the Pelicans reflects the team’s new-found confidence, via Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times:
“We’re 2-0 on this road trip, 3-0 is what we’re looking for,” Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell said. “Two-and-one is unacceptable.”
The Lakers already had already defeated the Sacramento Kings to start their three-game road trip, and the blowout triumph over the Pelicans means that only the young, talented Minnesota Timberwolves stand between them and a perfect trip. We have already heard several Lakers express frustration when they lose, believing that the team has the pieces that it needs to win.
It’s that sort of attitude, combined with the highest-scoring bench in the league, that the team will lean on when they head to Minnesota for a Sunday afternoon game. The Timberwolves feature a plethora of future stars, including Karl-Anthony Towns, Zach LaVine, Andrew Wiggins, and Kris Dunn to go along with steady role players like Gorgui Dieng, Shabazz Muhammad, and of course, passing maestro Ricky Rubio.
The exciting young Lakers will have a big challenge on their hands, but a win over Minnesota would push them even higher in the Western Conference and help legitimize their belief that they are a playoff team.