The 2021-22 season remains an uphill battle for the Los Angeles Lakers with a coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak becoming the latest of their concerns.
In the last two games, L.A. has played without multiple players after they entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols. So did Frank Vogel, leaving his head coach post in David Fizdale’s hands until he tests out of the protocols.
Fizdale faced an insurmountable challenge in leading the Lakers against the Chicago Bulls and Phoenix Suns with only two starters at his disposal as right when COVID-19 started decimating L.A.’s roster, the Purple and Gold also lost Anthony Davis to a knee injury.
Predictably, the Lakers lost both games, extending their losing streak to three games and falling back to the .500 mark on the season. But Fizdale said the team has impressed him with persistence and determination to fix its flaws — despite the hardship the group has been experiencing.
“There is nobody that is out of step from that standpoint,” he said. “Frustration? It happens, no doubt. In those film sessions do you get to call out the ugly stuff? Heck yeah. Those guys care. They care so much. There’s guys in there who have never tasted a trophy that will do anything to win.
“So the voice is a collective voice of stay the course, stay together, go through the rough stuff, figure it out and keep being solution-based. And it’s been headed up by Frank [Vogel] and LeBron [James].”
Fizdale said Vogel and LeBron James have been “nothing short of spectacular” when it comes to calling for patience while also emphasizing the need for accountability.
“They have been fantastic from the standpoint of leading us,” the coach said. “And even the other veterans have been great, but obviously this is Bron’s deal and those guys look to Bron. … It’s easy to say be patient and just gloss over crap and act like things are just all great. But it’s not and they don’t let it seem like that.
“They’re calling people out, we’re addressing the things that we need to clean up and those two are really spearheading that.”
Fizdale believes tides will turn for Lakers
Even though the Lakers have had to overcome endless hurdles in the battle that the 2021-22 campaign has been so far, Fizdale said he believes L.A. will come out of it victorious.
“We’re in the fight,” Fizdale said. “That’s the bottom line. For whatever reason, this season has just been incredibly choppy for us. We lose Bron early on. AD was sick, banged up, sick, banged up. You add Trevor [Ariza] and Talen [Horton-Tucker], Austin [Reaves], Malik [Monk] and these guys go out. We’re just trying to find our groove as we go through this season.
“At the end of the day, ultimately, if and when we find our connection, I think we’re going to be a really good basketball team and I think it’s going to come together.”
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