Luke Walton Believes Lakers Have Raised Their Level Of Expectations
Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

With a young roster that’s led by a handful of players 20-years-old or younger, not much was expected of the Los Angeles Lakers this season. In a perfect world, they’d improve on last year’s 26-56 record and continue with the rebuilding process.

But more so than wins and losses, the organization, from Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson to general manager Rob Pelinka to head coach Luke Walton, stressed the importance and priority of patience so long as growth was evident.

After back-to-back wins against the Brooklyn Nets and Memphis Grizzlies, the Lakers sat at .500 on Nov. 5. But they’re just 6-15 since that point, and 11-20 overall.

The Lakers just completed a particularly daunting stretch in December, a month full of road games. Although L.A. went a combined 1-3 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets, they were competitive in each of the five contests.

Such was the case Saturday night against the Portland Trail Blazers in what was the second of a back-to-back. Portland gutted out a 95-92 victory, to improve to 17-16 and remain in seventh place in the Western Conference standings.

“That’s another game that’s in the loss column that we could’ve won,” Lakers head coach Luke Walton said, visibly frustrated.

The second-year coach also divulged that his message to the team has changed in recent weeks, because of the Lakers’ showings against playoff-caliber teams. “Earlier in the year, I was telling our guys it doesn’t matter if we win or lose,” Walton explained.

“It’s how we’re playing, it’s building our habits. But I told them [Saturday], they’ve set an expectation and a standard for themselves that I now believe they are ready to win ballgames. I thought tonight was one we let get away from us.

While Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma have come into their own at various points in the season, lending to the Lakers surprising some with strong stretches of play, the team continues to be hampered by poor free-throw shooting and turnovers.

Those are areas Walton has harped on after several losses, including Saturday. “It’s frustrating, but we’ll see how we bounce back on Christmas,” he said.

WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DISCUSSION? CHECK OUT THE NEW FORUM CLUB

You May Also Like

Lakers News: Shaquille O’Neal Claims He Would Have Been ‘Gone’ If Trail Blazers Won Game 7 Of 2000 Conference Finals

One of the most memorable games in Los Angeles Lakers history is Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference…

Lakers News And Rumors Recap: Gasol Not Taking A Pay Cut

The Lakers are in the heart of their preseason schedule as they…

Video: Lakers Fans Excited About the Lakers In The NBA Finals?

On Jimmy Kimmel Live this week, Jimmy’s crew took to Hollywood Blvd.…

Lakers News: Jerry West Told Kobe Bryant Not To Sign With Clippers In 2004 NBA Free Agency

While it’s hardly debated that Kobe Bryant is the greatest Los Angeles Lakers player of all time, there is an argument to be…