At this point of the 2022-23 season, every game is a must-win for the Los Angeles Lakers as they look to claw their way back up the Western Conference standings.
Entering the night against the New Orleans Pelicans, the Lakers absolutely needed a victory, especially considering the Pelicans are one of the teams holding on to a valuable Play-In Tournament spot. Los Angeles responded in a huge way, earning a wire-to-wire victory over New Orleans that gives the team some positive momentum heading into the All-Star break.
One of the primary reasons the Lakers were able to come away with a statement win was the starting lineup Darvin Ham trotted out. Ham went with a group of D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, LeBron James and Anthony Davis and the unit gave L.A. an early lead it never relinquished.
When asked about the change in starters, Ham explained it was about creating balance.
“I think it was just about trying to create as much balance as we possibly could,” Ham said. “Same thought process at the beginning of the year. There’s gonna be games Dennis [Schroder] and DLo finish together. But I think just moving down into that second unit, along with Troy [Brown Jr.], Rui, those guys have a great synergy together, our new guys that come in, particularly, you know, Beas, DLo, and Vando, and putting those guys with Bron and AD, and it worked out. I thought we had a well-balanced attack. Different guys have different moments. And we were great defensively. I think you know, I expected just to get better and better and better. But yeah, just to have that balance was the biggest reason.”
The new starting group looked cohesive from the jump, moving the ball offensively while being able to cover for each other on the defensive end. Russell and Beasley gave James and Davis the spacing in the halfcourt that they’ve been desperately missing while Vanderbilt was the wing defender the team had been devoid of prior to the trade deadline. Not only was the new starting lineup effective, but the bench also looked much better.
Dennis Schroder and Austin Reaves were perfect complements when it came to organizing the offense, while Troy Brown Jr., Rui Hachimura and Mo Bamba provided size and length in the frontcourt. For the first time all season, Ham was able to run a 10-man rotation to perfection with players whose skillsets complemented each other.
Ham has drawn criticism for his lineups and rotation patterns, but he finally seems to have stumbled upon something that could work down the stretch. The Lakers don’t have any more time to waste if they want to make the playoffs, but there’s some renewed optimism that this new roster can make the run fans have been hoping for.
Hamm calls victory over Pelicans a ‘Q-of-L win’
The Lakers will now have a week off for the All-Star break before returning against the Golden State Warriors next Thursday.
Ham coined a new term to describe this win over the Pelicans, relieved that the Lakers can head into the break on a high note.
“I think is great. And I call it a Q-of-L win. Quality of life. That would have been a long time to sit on a loss, bro. I’m happy and then everything we’re trying to do everything we try to get done when we come back off of break. This is definitely a great step in the right direction.”
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