As the Los Angeles Lakers struggled to tread water while LeBron James and Rajon Rondo recovered from their respective injuries, it began to place the team under more pressure the later got into the season.
Even with both veterans back in the lineup, the Lakers haven’t been able to right the ship or generate much momentum. Monday’s loss to the L.A. Clippers was their third in a row and perhaps the most damaging to playoff odds.
The Lakers fell six games behind the Clippers for seventh place, and 5.5 back of the eighth-seeded San Antonio Spurs who hung on for a home win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night.
Falling further out of the playoff picture could lend to the Lakers lacking focus to close out the season, though head coach Luke Walton highlighted reasons the team would — or should — carry forward with effort.
“One, it’s our job. Two, we should all love this game,” he said. “We’re coming in to get better, because that’s what we’re supposed to do. I mean, that’s what we get paid to do. And we’re still not mathematically out of it. I know it’s a long shot, but we’re going to come in and work.”
The Lakers are just 2-5 since the All-Star break and 3-7 in their last 10 games. They’ve suffered inexplicable losses to the Atlanta Hawks, Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns during that stretch.
“Winning would stop it,” Walton said of the negative momentum that’s built up. “But winning comes from a result of working hard, playing as a team and going out and making things happen on the court.
“So what we’re going to do is keep working on those things. We’re going to continue to preach the same message of how we play and the way we do things. And then we have to come out to the court and make things happen. It’s the NBA. It’s tough to win games in this league. You’ve got to go take them.”
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