The Los Angeles Lakers have found themselves in a precarious situation. Despite a healthy 23-11 record on paper, good for third in the Western Conference standings, they recently lost four straight games without Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder.
Fortunately, Schroder was able to return on Friday night and helped the Lakers snap their skid with a win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
Schroder was out all four of the recent losses due to the league’s health and safety protocols, and he was surely missed. The most recent defeat came at the hands of the Utah Jazz, the unit with the league’s best record, who harmonized from 3-point range to engulf L.A.
The rough loss left the Lakers to conduct some soul-searching. When the team played games with a healthy roster earlier in the season, they assembled wins and looked poised to defend their 17th title in franchise history.
But the Lakers now find themselves dealing with adversity that wasn’t prevalent when wins were flowing. Markieff Morris, who has started the last two games, said the Lakers need to adjust to new roles to replace the production Davis and Schroder supplied.
“I told J-Kidd about a week ago that now we really have to think the game more so than just play,” Morris said. “I think early on we won with talent a lot. We’ve got a lot of role players that know their role. Now with those guys out, A.D. in particular, we need guys to do different things. It’s been four games. It’s not going to happen overnight.”
When the Lakers faced adversity last season, they were swift to alleviate any issues. But unfortunately, this season has presented new challenges with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that disrupts continuity and familiarity between players.
“This is almost a completely different team from last year,” Morris said. “Obviously if it was the same team then guys would know what to do when certain guys are out. But we had one week of training camp, a couple preseason games and we were right to it.”
But the struggles L.A. is attempting to resolve now could manifest some benefits down the road. Morris said the Lakers need this tough stretch to find an identity.
“This is new for all of us, but we need it. If you ask me, we need it because you never know with injuries. In the playoffs, you never know. We need these challenging times to really find who we really are.”
LeBron James adjusting to Lakers’ needs
Similar to what Morris alluded to about the team needing to adjust to unorthodox roles, Lakers star LeBron James is in the same boat. The 18-year veteran said he’s focused on adjusting to fit the team’s needs.
“Just staying openminded about whatever my teammates need, whatever the coaching staff needs, whatever the personnel I’m playing with needs at that particular time, and always having a growth mindset and not settling,” James recently said.
“I think that’s what it all boils down to and right now is another challenge for me to be able to adjust.”
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