The Los Angeles Lakers are battling their first major crisis this season, caused by player absences that added up to the wear and tear of the 2020-21 season.
L.A. enters play Friday having lost four straight games, most recently falling 114-89 to the current No. 1 Western Conference-seeded Utah Jazz. The Lakers again played without Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder, although the latter could return Friday if he clears the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
Regardless, the current campaign will continue to extoll some serious physical and mental pressure on the Lakers due to the scheduling and rigid coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions. The season also started just eight weeks after the emotionally draining Orlando bubble.
“It’s mental with us right now,” said Markieff Morris of the Lakers’ losing streak. “It’s tough, man. It’s just different. Mentally, you never really get a chance to roll over. We’re playing every other day and some of the days that we’re not playing, we’re flying.”
Morris pointed out the Lakers are far from complaining about the challenges of the current campaign considering every team is subjected to them. And even despite the extent of the mental toll, the forward said L.A. could benefit from the mid-season crisis because it allows the players to discover and work on their weaknesses.
“You never win without having these type of lapses through the season,” Morris said.
Even though Morris found himself out of head coach Frank Vogel’s rotations earlier this season, the 31-year-old said he had never played more basketball in his life than the stretch that began last year.
Morris claimed there isn’t much he could do to aid resistance from the heavy workload besides remaining professional and using mental tricks to distance himself from the everyday toil.
“I do a lot of meditation just to get my mind right because the games are coming back-to-back. You have to kind of trick yourself into not being sore or not being tired,” he explained.
“It’s an unbelievable amount of basketball we’re all playing, and mentally it gets draining. Especially when you lose. But like I said before, we need this. This is a mental test for all of us to see where we’re at without one of our best players. We’ve just got to work from there.”
Lionel Hollins away from Lakers due to personal reasons
In another blow, the Lakers played the road games against the Washington Wizards and the Jazz without assistant coach Lionel Hollins on the sidelines.
Hollins reportedly missed the two losses due to personal reasons, leaving Frank Vogel’s staff without a key member.
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