After Wednesday night’s 134-95 loss to the Houston Rockets, the Los Angeles Lakers have now lost four straight games and seven of their last nine. The Lakers’ excellent start to the season now seems to be a thing of the past.
Some of that certainly can be attributed to the Lakers’ long list of injuries as well as a very difficult early season schedule, but head coach Luke Walton does not want the team using that as a crutch.
According to Mark Medina of the OC Register, Walton stressed the importance of coming out and playing hard, and not using the injuries as an excuse:
“We can’t have that mindset. We don’t need help,” Walton said. “Obviously we’re missing key players, and you’re going to lose games. But if we’re sitting around as a team (thinking), ‘Hey let’s wait for Nick and D’Angelo and this guy and that guy to get back,’ what kind of mindset is that? You come out and you play hard. You at least do the little things.”
While Walton is worried about the team developing that mindset, forward Julius Randle believes that is exactly what is happening with the Lakers, and that they aren’t playing the right way:
“I think we’re using it as an excuse,” said Lakers forward Julius Randle, who logged his seventh double-double of the season with 21 points and 10 rebounds. “I don’t know what we’re doing, but we’re not being ourselves, and we’re not playing the right way. We’re not playing with the energy and not trusting each other on the defensive end.”
This is the Lakers’ first real adversity of the season, and they aren’t handling it too well. The defense has gotten worse, and the ball movement is not at the level that it was at the beginning of the season.
There is no doubt that getting back at full strength will help the Lakers get back on track, but simply relying on that to happen is a dangerous proposition because if things don’t immediately change, the team as a whole could lose confidence and dig themselves even further in a hole.
Before the season, Walton stressed that the way the Lakers played was the most important thing, not results. Unfortunately, neither has gone well for the team in the recent week.