Following a four-game winning streak after the All-Star break, the Los Angeles Lakers have dismantled, losing three consecutive contests as LeBron James became the latest victim to the injury report.
The Lakers managed to keep the games against the Atlanta Hawks and Phoenix Suns interesting, despite signs pointing to a blowout in those contests. But against the New Orleans Pelicans Tuesday, the Lakers couldn’t answer the interior attack bombarded on them.
Los Angeles managed to hit 18-of-37 (48.6%) of their 3-point attempts against the Pelicans, something point guard Dennis Schroder called for more of, but shots inside the arc and missed free throws significantly cost them.
On top of that, the Pelicans out-rebounded L.A. 53-34 and faced minimal resistance when attacking the basket. The Lakers looked like a unit desperately craving practice time, but forward Kyle Kuzma explained how the team needs to learn and adapt quickly given the condensed schedule.
“That would be great in a perfect world, but that’s not the situations that we’re in,” Kuzma said. “We have games every other day, so you can’t necessarily practice and kind of go full throttle. We play Thursday, Friday, day off, Sunday. Really we have to learn on the fly and the games are kind of our practice right now. It’s all about shifting your mindset to be that way on the fly. It’s up to us to do that.”
This isn’t the first time the Lakers must deal with having James out for an extended period, as he dealt with a groin injury in his debut season with the team.
Kuzma, who was a member of that roster, expressed his confidence in who the Lakers have this year but said finding a new identity without James and Anthony Davis is the top task.
“I’m not sure. I think that we have better pieces than that team for sure,” Kuzma said. “But we just have to figure out our new style of play really. I think that’s a big thing for us. One, we’re undersized right now. We have bodies out and then on top of that like I said kind of switching our offensive profile it would really help, too.
“This team is constructed for playing off LeBron and Anthony Davis, so for us we got to switch the script and shoot more threes and get up and down more and have more pace and play together. That’s the challenge we have right now.”
Trading Alfonzo McKinnie to free up cap space a possibility for Lakers
The current losing streak has the Lakers questioning just how talented their roster is this season. Los Angeles has been linked to several names in potential trades and with possible buyout candidates, but shedding contracts may be another viable option if they want to add more talent.
One way to do that is by removing Alfonzo McKinnie’s contract off the books, which the Lakers could possibly seek out.
McKinnie hasn’t played significant minutes with the Lakers this season, and moving on from him could open the door to sign other players who may be better suited to help the franchise defend their 17th championship.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!