The Los Angeles Lakers reached a rare point in their schedule over the weekend, with four consecutive off days before returning to the court Monday night as the designated road team against the Clippers.
Players were allowed to rest and relax with their families on Thanksgiving, plus they received an additional off day. The Lakers reconvened at the UCLA Health Training Center for back-to-back days of practices.
Head coach Luke Walton noted there was room for improvement in the team’s first day back, which he saw Sunday. More importantly, however, Walton believed the time off suited the Lakers well.
“I think we accomplished what we wanted with this break, which was physically and mentally giving these guys time off,” he said. “A lot of them are young and not used to the grind of what this is. Even some guys that have been here, they’re playing big-time minutes right now.
“It was nice to be able to have a little break in the middle of the season. Hopefully we’ll get back to what we were doing well before.”
“For us, that’s our defensive intensity, how we compete on that end, transition defense and our individual defense, and getting out and running. We’re starting to fall in love with the jump shot, which is not the strength of our team.”
The Lakers rank sixth in the league with a 101 defensive rating, but are just 28th in offense (99.2 rating). “We were able to come in and really get after it for two straight days, which I think is how you stay sharp,” Walton said.
“You get chippy in practice, you push each other, talk a little trash and go all out. We did that for two straight days. I think overall it was a nice four-day break we were able to take advantage of.”
The intense practices culminated with Larry Nance Jr. taking an inadvertent elbow from Andrew Bogut on Sunday. Nance was forced to an early exit and received stitches. He’s still expected to return against the Clippers.
Beginning Monday, eight of the Lakers’ next 11 games are on the road.
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