The Los Angeles Lakers have not been able to figure out their strongest lineups yet due to the adversity they’ve faced this season.
L.A. has deployed 27 different starting units so far in 2021-22, one of the highest numbers in the NBA. Due to injuries, the coronavirus (COVID-19), and suspensions, L.A.’s Big 3 has played together only 18 times, causing chemistry issues when LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook share the floor.
Those were exposed by the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday, leading the Lakers by as many as 30 points during the 131-116 win at Crypto.com Arena. Head coach Frank Vogel pointed out the team’s lack of lineup consistency made it difficult for the Purple and Gold to match up with the Bucks’ stars.
“I’d like to find a starting group we can stick with, but we haven’t won enough to do that,” Vogel said. “I think tonight was more about who were we going to put on Giannis [Antetokounmpo] in the second group and not ask Bron to carry that whole load. We wanted Stanley available for that and use Trevor’s length on Middleton, so it was match-up based. For right now, we’ll look at that.
“We’ve had two terrible defensive first halves consecutively, so we’re looking at everything right now.”
James said after the game the Lakers clearly can’t play championship basketball right now. However, he pointed out the current campaign has had “many chapters,” during which the Lakers have suffered plenty of setbacks.
“Myself I’ve been in and out,” the four-time NBA champion said. “[Anthony Davis] was out for a long period of time. We had a moment where we were playing some really good basketball and then I think, I don’t remember what road trip that was, but we had four out of our top five rotational players hit with COVID or whatever the case was.
“We had four or five call-ups, trying to figure things out.”
Still, James said the Lakers can’t use the volume of lineups they have had to use this year as an excuse for the highly disappointing performances.
“At the end of the day, you still got to go out and do your damn job,” he said. “No matter what lineup is out there, you still got to go out and do your job. You still got to try to figure things out, we’re all trying to figure it out, including the coaching staff.”
Davis says Lakers still try to make their Big 3 work
Davis agreed the lack of stability in the Lakers’ play has contributed to the disappointing results in 2021-22. The 28-year-old added it made Westbrook’s integration with the team “tough,” but the Purple and Gold are still believing in their Big 3’s potential.
“I don’t think we’ve given up on this, I know we haven’t,” Davis said.
“We got a lot of basketball left, we can turn this around but it’s gonna take a lot of work. To do it, it’s gonna take us as a team to do so. We got to buy in and everyone’s got to go out there and play for each other, play hard, play selfless and try to turn this around before it gets really bad.”
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