Somewhat fittingly considering how things have gone, the Los Angeles Lakers went into the All-Star break with a lot of questions. Following an inspiring win over the Boston Celtics, head coach Luke Walton’s team was blown out by the Philadelphia 76ers.
That was followed by arguably the most disappointing loss of the season to the Atlanta Hawks. It dropped the Lakers below .500 for the first time since the beginning of November, and put further strain on their odds of reaching the playoffs.
The Lakers now have more than a week off until their next game, and Walton hopes his team takes some time to regroup during that stretch and prepare for a push toward the playoffs, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“It was a disappointing loss for us. Time for us to get away and reflect a little bit about where we are as a group. I think this first part of the season we’ve gone through a lot of adversity as a group. We’re probably not where we want to be but we’re still close enough. We’ve got a challenge ahead of us coming back after All-Star, and we’ve got some work to do, but I think we have a group that’s up to that challenge.”
Though they’re currently on the outside looking in, the always-optimistic Walton believes the Lakers will get in the right frame of mind post-All-Star break:
“Coming back, re-energized with the idea of let’s try to do something special. Let’s sacrifice, let’s go out and give for the team. That’s what we were doing earlier, and I think we’ll get back to that.”
When they do return, the Lakers will be in a battle with the San Antonio Spurs, Clippers, Sacramento Kings, and possibly the Dallas Mavericks and Minnesota Timberwolves for those final playoff spots.
The loss to the Hawks is undoubtedly a tough one for the Lakers, and comes at a terrible time, but Walton isn’t wrong in that his team is close enough to make a playoff push. One good run from the Lakers coming out of the All-Star break and they could easily jump up a couple of spots in the Western Conference standings.
The challenge comes in their remaining schedule as the Lakers have contests against playoff teams such as the Golden Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers, Milwaukee Bucks, Celtics and Toronto Raptors.
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