It’s an old saying: One game at a time. Caught in a three-game slide, the Lakers are narrowing their range directly in front of them.
That’s because with the latest outbreak of COVID-19 in the NBA and league, who knows what lies ahead from today.
The Lakers met on Wednesday to review the film from Tuesday’s loss to the Phoenix Suns, apparently in preparation for Thursday’s game against San Antonio. In their meeting, they recalled the four players (Malik Monk, Avery Bradley, Austin Reeves and Kent Bezmore), head coach Frank Vogel and several other staff who usually contribute to the sessions. Their Christmas Day game against the Brooklyn Nets, which has long circulated as one of the banner matchups of the NBA’s regular season, is seriously at risk after the league postponed the Nets’ third straight game.
“You’re just taking it and living day to day, you don’t know what’s going to happen,” Carmelo Anthony said. “We can wake up tomorrow morning and they can say that our tomorrow’s game has been cancelled.”
The NBA has shown determination to move through this latest surge of positive coronavirus tests, which in December alone (over 120) already dwarfed the total number of players and staff entering protocol last season. Is. Commissioner Adam Silver appeared on ESPN on Tuesday, saying he did not expect the season to stop. The league has put in place protocols such as the Lakers for teams with significant numbers of personnel, allowing for 10-day hardship contracts and extended times for two-way contract players.
Still, the uncertainty is troubling. The Lakers have stabilized on their roster, with no new player cases since Sunday morning, but protocol still has no way of planning when the four players will be tested. The question is also swirling around Vogel, who is sending interim coach David Fizdale his coaching insights remotely via Zoom and texting in the middle of the game.
Fizdale admitted that he is not sure whether he will lead the Spurs against the Lakers; It depends how Vogel’s test is done.
“I’m ready if he needs to step into that seat, and I’m ready if I need to be there to support Frank,” he said. “This is a day-to-day situation and we will not get bogged down in how unfortunate all this is or how disruptive all this is. We can only control our reaction to it.”
Constantly changing conditions have affected not only who can play for the Lakers, but how the available Lakers play. The team has gone with a smaller lineup out of necessity, playing more minutes with LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Trevor Ariza in the center or power forward. While center Dwight Howard was technically available to play Tuesday night, the Lakers opted to give him a few more days to physically prepare after being locked into last week’s protocol.
When Anthony was pulled out with his second technical on Tuesday night, he admitted that he lost his cool after being elbowed in the ribs while attempting the shot. But it also underscores how thin the Lakers are without him — down the stretch, they struggled against the big guys from the Suns. However, Anthony replied, there may be times when the Lakers will need that spark.
“The only thing is I think I let people go, I let the team down because that’s not something I do, go out and get in situations like this,” he said . “But it happens, man. Maybe we need that kind of fire. To tease someone, that type of harsh foul. We need that kind of energy. I miss that game.”
Less depth also changes the way some healthy Lakers play. Talen Horton-Tucker and Isaiah Thomas often won’t combine for 2 for 24 off the field (00 for 14 from 3-point range) as they did against Phoenix, but some players are inevitably on their shoulders. Feel the pressure to put in more. team out of recession
That could be a factor for Russell Westbrook, who had seven turnovers in the game, including several at the end of the third quarter, helping the Suns hold a double-digit lead. During the team’s film review, Fizdale said, there were several clips when Westbrook was carrying too much load.
“I think the situation in the last few matches, because of so many people in and out, that they had to save us,” he said. “And so some of his plays, he was probably moving too fast or trying to suppress when things weren’t.”
But mistakes will happen when a new group plays together, and even though James and Westbrook are still in place, the five-man lineup the Lakers have had to go with recently didn’t log much time together. Is. DeAndre Jordan and Rajon Rondo were recently taken off the bench, Ariza had just returned from a pre-season injury, and Thomas was out of the NBA a week earlier. There’s still little cohesion for the Lakers – that’s been the case for most of the season, but with over a third of the schedule, it’s starting to hurt their bottom line for playoff positioning.
They may add more to it in the coming days. Fizdale said against the Suns, they erred on the side of relying on the Giants. But the Lakers also feel they’re missing out on the youthful energy they’ve come to wield from Austin Reeves and Malik Monk — they could replace it with the recently added Mason Jones and Jamerio Jones if they get one. The need for a shot is felt. Hand.
“It’s an important piece of our roster and you can see we don’t have it,” Fizdale said. “It’s obvious. It’s clear we’re missing it.”
There is very little that feels certain in the days to come. ESPN reported that its network, which airs all games on Christmas Day, could potentially reshuffle the schedule on December 24, meaning the Lakers could tip at a different time than they expected. At the moment, the Nets have All-Stars Kevin Durant, James Harden or Kyrie Irving in the protocol system – even if the game is on, the star power of the once promised matchup has dwindled considerably.
Ariza acknowledged that it is “unfortunate” that the NBA banner is dealing with such an influx with broadcast day – a day many players usually look forward to – that is at hand. But at the age of 36, he has learned to value every moment on the court, even the moments that don’t live up to the expectations.
“You don’t know how many games you’re going to play, especially at the age we’re on our team,” he said. “So, whenever you get a chance to be on the court, you cherish it. It doesn’t matter who’s out there. Everyone here is professional, professional. So, whoever is on the court is special.”