The Los Angeles Lakers escaped a seven-game road trip with a 4-3 record, a remarkable feat for Frank Vogel and his team given what they’ve had to deal with on the injury front. In the seven games they played on the road, they had five different starting lineups and had to change their starting five each of the last five games.
With all of the injuries and rotation shuffling, the Lakers not only managed to hold their No. 5 seed in the Western Conference standings, but they actually gained some ground on the fourth-seeded Denver Nuggets. Overall, it’s fair to say that they were successful in their time away from Staples Center.
Vogel spoke about the difficulty of changing lineups so many times on the road trip.
“It’s just been a disjointed trip, a disjointed season, seemingly new rotation, new guys in there each night,” Vogel said after a win against the Charlotte Hornets. “And our guys are just competing through it, they’re giving great effort.
“We play against an extremely physical and tough and kind of wear-you-down opponent last night in New York, arrived here in Charlotte late at night and then got a completely different challenge from the standpoint of a young, energetic, in-your-face, pressuring type of defense tonight. And our guys didn’t let it phase them. It was imperfect, but our guys competed through it and we were able to get the W.”
He also said that while all of the Lakers players are fatigued, he’s proud of them for fighting through it to get wins. “Yeah, I think all our guys are really fatigued right now. We’ve been stretched really thin with all the injuries and compact schedule and seven straight road games.
“But to come out of it 4-3 on this stretch, 3-2 on this particular trip, we feel good about that. And we’ve got a tough schedule coming up, but I definitely think that all our guys have been stretched thin and they’re just competing through it right now so I’m proud of them.”
Vogel then listed all of the injury issues they’ve had to deal with while reiterating his pride in the Lakers for competing every single game.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the effort they’re putting forth night in and night out. Like I said, having been in a stretch with all the injuries and we’re winning some games along the stretch. You have seven straight road games and you come out of that plus-.500 with not only Bron and AD out but seemingly a new guy out each night, Kuz missed a couple games, Wes missed a couple games, Keef is a late scratch tonight, it’s just been a challenge.
“So to come out of this stretch 4-3, we’re happy with. But still got a lot of work to do. Still don’t have those guys back yet and we’ve got to win some games this week.”
Now that the road trip is finally over, the Lakers do get to come home, even if they have to play some tough opponents in the meantime. They’ll now face a three-game homestand with one meeting against the Boston Celtics and two against the Utah Jazz.
The injury problems won’t be solved for any of these games, meaning the undermanned Lakers will have to continue to compete to the best of their abilities, stealing some wins in the process.
Vogel credits Caruso for dirty work against Hornets
Alex Caruso was perhaps the player of the game for the Lakers in their win against the Hornets, and it was because of all the little things he does so well.
“Of course, for a lot of reasons obviously, that was a big shot for us to seal the game,” Vogel said. “But he did so much dirty work for us it’s ridiculous and for him to contribute offensively the way he did for us tonight, it’s just good for everyone. Everybody is happy for him.”
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