The Los Angeles Lakers reached the halfway mark of the 2021-22 season with a 21-20 record, failing to match the expectations brought by the arrival of Russell Westbrook and others.
L.A. struggled to gel during the first half of the current campaign following a massive roster overhaul in the summer. An early injury wave and then a coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak threw significant hurdles at the Lakers, heavily interrupting the team’s integration.
However, the Purple and Gold recorded a season-best four-game winning streak at the turn of the year and won five of the last seven games, suffering their two losses in meetings with the roaring Memphis Grizzlies.
L.A. has also owned the best offense in the NBA during that run with an offensive rating of 121.0, suggesting the Lakers’ project is finally starting to come together.
“I guess we’re moving in the right direction, other than tonight,” Westbrook said after Sunday’s 127-119 loss to the Grizzlies.
“That all you can worry about is the next game. Figure out how we want to play best towards the end of the year.”
The Grizzlies ended the Lakers’ streak in what would have been a blowout loss on Sunday if not for the reserve unit’s fourth-quarter 21-0 run.
Besides the late push, everyone not named LeBron James struggled to get buckets throughout the game — as James ended the night 14-for-19 from the field (73.7%) while the rest of the team went 31-for-78 (39.7%).
James encouraged by ‘really good basketball’ from Lakers in recent games
James shares Westbrook’s optimism, saying the Lakers’ form has been trading up recently — except for the loss to the Grizzlies
“I think as of late, before tonight, we’ve played some really good basketball,” he said.
“We want to continue to trend over the next 42. Like I said, the best thing about our ballclub right now is that we’re getting healthy. We’re logging minutes, we’re getting some good chemistry and obviously, we played a great team tonight.
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