The Los Angeles Lakers have lost six out of their last seven games down the stretch of this season as injuries have destroyed their rotation. Even with that, Luke Walton’s team has had an excellent year and are clearly heading in the right direction for the future.
Eliminated from playoff contention for a fifth consecutive season, and with so many rotation players on the sideline, it can be difficult for a team to remain focused on the last couple of games. Walton isn’t taking that as an excuse, however.
“The mindset we need to have is practice, shootarounds, games, whatever it is, we’re locked in and trying to be our best,” Walton said following the Lakers’ 105-99 loss to the Houston Rockets.
For a team still building a foundation and culture this is extremely important. Walton can’t allow things to go south regardless of the situation the team is facing. Furthermore, Walton believes the team’s standard has risen, and he refuses to let that fall.
“We’re out of the playoffs, there’s one game left, but there’s still a standard of play I hold them to because they’ve shown me they can be that good,” he explained. “It’s a standard that they’ve set for themselves. Now that they’ve set it, I’m not going to let them get away with not playing at that level.”
The Lakers clearly proved this season that they were far ahead of what they had shown in the last couple of years. The young talent mixed with the productive veterans and the team found themselves in down-to-the-wire games with all of the top teams in the NBA.
They earned victories over the likes of the Houston Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics.
Now that the Lakers have shown what they can do, Walton won’t accept anything else. Even with nothing on the line and a shaken up roster, Walton wants this team to give everything they have, every time they’re on the floor.
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