Although the Los Angeles Lakers went into the All-Star break with a three-game losing streak, head coach Luke Walton elected to focus on some of the positives this season. When compared to last season, the Lakers have shown encouraging improvement and growth.
Beginning Friday against the Dallas Mavericks, the Lakers have just 25 games remaining. After early hope of a potential trip to the playoffs, that possibility no longer appears quite as feasible.
Thus, the team is left to focus on internal improvements, which has been a common theme during their rebuild. “Defensively, to get back to where we were,” Walton said of what he’s hoping to see down the home stretch.
“We want to be a top-10 defensive team for these last 25 games. We want to continue to play at the pace we’ve done. I think going into the break we were still No. 1 in pace.
“We want to continue to develop our young players. They need to keep playing, they need to keep getting reps, they need to keep finishing and learning how to win games. There’s a lot of little goals we have that we talk about. The main ones are our defense, our pace offensively, and continuing to give some of these young guys opportunities to grow, knowing we’re really going to need them in the future.”
While Walton did not specifically mention it, the Lakers also figure to spend at least some portion of their remaining games blending Isaiah Thomas and Lonzo Ball. The rookie point guard is expected to return from a sprained MCL in his left knee, perhaps as early as Friday night.
Prior to their current losing streak, the Lakers had won four games in a row and eight of 10. Walton attributed the skid and regression on defense to fatigue. There’s also the factor of losing Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. in a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
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