Lakers News: Darvin Ham Preaches ‘Consistent Discipline’ In Series Vs. Nuggets
Darvin Ham, Lakers
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers are gearing up for a first round series against the reigning NBA champion Denver Nuggets, the team that eliminated them via sweep in last season’s Western Conference Finals. Both teams are largely the same from last season — with some minor adjustments — giving head coach Darvin Ham plenty of tape to work with to figure out what went wrong last season.

The Lakers kept the Nuggets close in all four games of the Western Conference Finals sweep, but ultimately could not make anything happen in crunch time. That trend continued in the regular season in 2023-24, with the Nuggets sweeping the Lakers once again. Ham now has to try and find a way for the Lakers to be more competitive if they want to have a chance of advancing past the opening round.

Ham believes that in the early process of breaking down film, defeating the Nuggets is less about scheme and more about staying focused.

“Having consistent discipline,” Ham said of the key to this series. “I won’t go into the details of the stuff we went through on our first day of preparation, but we had a chance to get in the theater and have some really good dialogue, put a game plan together and get out on the court and touch on some different scenarios. Just being consistently disciplined, that’s got to be our focus.”

Luckily, Ham feels like the Lakers are energized and ready for the challenge of knocking out the reigning champs and the team that eliminated them.

“Absolutely. The energy is great,” Ham added. “We looked at some things from the previous games and tried to extract what we could to make ourselves a little bit wiser but obviously going for, I feel like we’re in a good space.”

Where the Nuggets have truly had the Lakers number over the last two seasons is in late game execution. It seems as though L.A. can always keep things close until around the final 3-5 minutes of the fourth quarter, when Denver pulls ahead.

“It’s a combination of a couple different things,” Ham said. “That’s why I mentioned consistent discipline with our execution, make sure we get the right shots that we know makes us that much more hard to guard. And give them credit. They had different guys step up and make big shots for them. We’ve had unfortunate turnovers, unfortunate missed blockouts. And they’re a championship team. So, you have to do the little things. The intangibles have to be on point.”

In order to curb this, Ham preached a next=play mentality when playing a team as disciplined and focused as the reigning champs.

“They’re the defending champs. So anytime you waver or you complain about a no-call or you get frustrated, that can easily spill into the next two or three or four possessions. You got to fight that. Limbo rate, indecisiveness, you got to fight that. You have to give multiple efforts and have a next-play mentality. Again, the key word for us is discipline.”

The Lakers certainly seem more well-equipped to give the Nuggets a run for their money than they did last year. However, the challenge is not going to be easier, and the Lakers must do as Ham says and stay focused if they want to keep up with the Nuggets in crunch time.

LeBron James: Lakers shouldn’t take Nuggets series personally

Los Angeles will once again enter the series as the underdog, though the team is in better position thanks to LeBron James, who has looked locked in and healthy on the floor.

Ahead of the first round matchup, James explained why he doesn’t believe things between the Lakers and Nuggets should be personal despite the battled they’ve had and eight straight losses.

“It shouldn’t be personal at all,” James said. “I think you allow yourself to get away from the game plan if you make it personal. We have a game plan, just go out there and execute it and you live with the results… I just stay even-keeled.

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