Without LeBron James and Anthony Davis in the lineup, the Los Angeles Lakers have predictably struggled against playoff-caliber teams.
The Lakers were recently blown out by their Staples Center co-tenants the L.A. Clippers, never once leading throughout the afternoon on Sunday. Scoring has been difficult to come by the Lakers without their superstars as they do not have many options to turn to once a play breaks down.
Although the loss dropped them to the fifth seed, the Purple and Gold can take defeats in stride as it gives them a better idea of how they can get better. Marc Gasol acknowledged that losses like the one to the Clippers can still help the Lakers in the long run.
“I think it’s always good to play a good team during the regular season because they present you the strong challenges that forces your team to get better,” Gasol said. “So always playing against good teams, like last week we played against Milwaukee or today against the Clippers, they force you to look yourself in the mirror and see what you could do better.
“They challenge you, they test you at all levels because they have talent, they have size, they have athleticism, they have depth, they have a lot of consistency on both ends of the floor. So it’s a challenge. It’s always good obviously, we didn’t have all of our guys and it would’ve been nice because it’s a good kind of, I don’t want to call it a training session, but it’s a good challenge and you can learn a lot from it to get you ready for what you’re gonna see in the postseason.”
Despite the uncertainty of his role with Andre Drummond now on the roster, Gasol has remained engaged when he is on the floor and that showed against the Clippers, scoring 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting. The center has been transparent about his frustration, but Los Angeles will definitely need him come postseason time.
The Lakers will likely have more outings like they did against the Clippers until James and Davis return, but the rest of the team can use this time to improve on their individual play. Gasol is a veteran who understands that the regular season is preparation for the playoffs, and Los Angeles will be better off taking their lumps now.
Lakers have one of the most versatile front courts
When it comes to the playoffs, the Lakers will once again boast one of the most versatile lineups. They can go big with Drummond or Gasol, or downsize and play Davis at the five. Harrell will also get more run depending on the opposing set of bigs the team faces.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel has made it clear that all three will be used in the postseason, although matchups will determined how the minutes are divided.
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