The Play-In Tournament spots in the Western Conference almost resemble musical chairs at this point as the San Antonio Spurs, New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Lakers take turns rotating in and out.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, it is their turn to be the ones on the outside looking in after losing to the Utah Jazz on Thursday night.
Without LeBron James or Anthony Davis available, Los Angeles predictably struggled to overcome a Utah squad that was itching to get right after blowing a large lead over the L.A. Clippers just a couple of days prior to their matchup.
Playing in the tournament for the second consecutive season in a row should not sit well with the franchise, but veterans like Trevor Ariza noted he and the team are looking at it as another opportunity to revive their season.
“Any time you have an opportunity to play in the playoffs or to extend your season, I think it’s a plus. Once you get there, it’s 0-0. So whatever you’ve been going through throughout the season, the struggles you’ve been going through, you get an opportunity to start over.”
Because the Lakers do not own their first-round pick this year, there is no reason for them to tank the rest of the way. The optics of throwing in the towel with a chance at a playoff spot would reflect poorly on the organization, so Ariza is right that they would be best served going down swinging.
Unfortunately, their schedule the rest of the way is one of the league’s most difficult, so the odds are certainly not in their favor. However, should James and Davis make their return against the Pelicans, things definitely appear brighter.
Vogel confident of Lakers’ chances with James & Davis
With James and Davis planning on playing against New Orleans, Los Angeles is in good position to reclaim a Play-In spot in the highly anticipated game. Head coach Frank Vogel has remained optimistic about his stars suiting up in the near future and reiterated his confidence in the team should they make the tournament.
“We do feel like we’re gonna get them back at some point and we have to stay in the fight. We have to give ourselves a chance. If we’re able to get into the Play-In Game at full strength, we know we got a shot.
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