Beginning with their 116-107 loss to the San Antonio Spurs, the Los Angeles Lakers entered perhaps the most grueling stretch of their schedule.
That Spurs loss on Friday kicked off a 12-game slate in which the Lakers will play five road games, three of which come on the second night of a back-to-back, with the New Orleans Pelicans looking like the only non-playoff contending team the Lakers will face.
It is all part of a grueling 18 games in 30 days stretch for Los Angeles, but guard Jordan Clarkson is unfazed by the upcoming calendar.
“We ain’t scared,” Clarkson told Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times, and with how tightly the Lakers are playing top competition they really shouldn’t be.
The Lakers have already notched upset victories over the Houston Rockets on opening night and the Golden State Warriors not long after. Clarkson said the team wasn’t scared after they hung tough with the Spurs, one of the best teams in the Western Conference.
The Lakers are doing it with the ninth most efficient offense in the league (scoring 107.4 points per 100 possessions), running opponents into the ground by using their deep bench to play at the sixth quickest pace in the NBA. The team is still only 26th in defensive efficiency (allowing 106.5 points per 100 possessions), but have still managed a positive net rating (0.9) in spite of their struggles on that end of the floor.
The young, scrappy Lakers are clearly better than most projected. While it is still unlikely to lead to a playoff berth this season, it is a promising sign for the team moving forward that they are so far ahead of the curve in their development. It’s also left them confident they can at least hang with most teams in the league on any given night.