Despite already being mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, the Los Angeles Lakers are determined to finish out the 2018-19 NBA season on a strong note.
That was evident when the Lakers earned a hard-fought victory over the current No. 6 seed Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center.
With the 122-117 win, the Lakers improved to 5-3 over their last eight games. The team’s recent success is even more impressive when considering their shorthanded roster that is currently without the services of LeBron James, Lonzo Ball, and Brandon Ingram — to name a few.
While injuries have derailed Year 1 with James and the young core, many have wondered what could have been if the team managed to stay healthy. Lakers head coach Luke Walton does not see the benefits in reflecting on the past.
“The thought does cross my mind occasionally, but I don’t give it any power, any time,” Walton admitted. “It’s pointless to think about.”
“The only thing that is worth spending time thinking on is what we can do better, how do we prepare for the next team, things that have to do with where we are right now. So, I just push that thought out and keep moving forward and stay present.”
Prior to James’ Christmas Day groin injury against the Golden State Warriors, the Lakers looked like a formidable threat in the Western Conference, entering play with a 19-14 record and the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference playoff picture.
Los Angeles would unfortunately struggle with James on the shelf for a month, posting a lowly 6-11 record in his absence.
The injuries would only continue piling on from there as Ball, Ingram, Josh Hart, and Tyson Chandler have all missed a significant amount of playing time in the second half.