Lakers News: Darvin Ham Explains Five-Guard Lineup With Russell Westbrook At Center Against Mavericks
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers did not have a very merry Christmas as they lost to the Dallas Mavericks, marking their fourth consecutive defeat of the 2022-23 season.

The Lakers played well in the first half, with LeBron James carrying the offense while the defense did a good job of limiting Luka Doncic. However, as has been the case all season, the third quarter was a disaster of a showing as Los Angeles gave up 51 points in the period and never were able to climb back into the game.

Head coach Darvin Ham has clearly struggled to find lineups that work on both ends with Anthony Davis sidelined, so in what seemed like an act of desperation, he broke out a five-guard lineup. After the loss, Ham explained the decision via NBA.com:

“You throw everything up against the wall and see what sticks. It’s one of those types of situations. AD’s not here, not in the lineup. We’re not going to start using that as an excuse. Hell yeah, it’s a big hole in our lineup. We get it. But now, we’re pros. We’ve got to step up… Just trying to get more possessions in the game. Even when you go small like that, any of those guys can get the defensive rebound and push it… It’s just trying to play faster at the end of the day, amongst other things.”

Ham utilized a lineup of Russell Westbrook, Dennis Schroder, Patrick Beverley, Lonnie Walker IV and Austin Reaves in the fourth quarter as the Lakers were trailing by double digits. The group largely struggled on both ends of the floor and the size issues were readily apparent when Christian Wood dominated the offensive end with dunks and offensive rebounds.

Any time LeBron James has been off the floor, Los Angeles is unable to do much and this was just another case of the poor roster construction coming to bite the team. While Ham certainly deserves some of the blame for using a lineup that most would expect to fail, he doesn’t have many options left with Davis out.

The truth of the matter is that Ham and his coaching staff are desperately searching for rotations and lineups that can hold their own when James rests. That’s never been an easy task since the King has been with the Lakers, though now it’s as urgent as ever as they continue to fall down the standings.

Darvin Ham says giving up 51 points in third quarter to Mavericks ‘completely unacceptable’

The final score was deceiving as Los Angeles was thoroughly beaten in the second half by Dallas. Defensively, the team has regressed since the beginning of the year, and their third quarter showing without Davis was their worst performance to date. Afterward, Ham was critical of his team’s performance and said it was completely unacceptable for that to happen.

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