A 73-point first half — a 10-10 start. A 40-point second half collapse — a 1-10 slump. Brilliant glances into a bright future followed immediately by the harsh truth that the present tends to be. In the end, reality for this young Lakers team exists somewhere in the middle, as boring as that might be for a fan base desperate for progress.
Wednesday’s loss in Charlotte was equal parts thrilling and frustrating. When it ended, I called it annoying. No matter which adjective you prefer, one thing’s for sure (and I’m legitimately angry it took me so long to consider it, but whatever): That game perfectly encapsulated this Lakers season so far, and if put into proper perspective, could help deal with where we may be going.
As it was happening, that .500 start had people talking about heights even the most optimistic fan might’ve blushed at before the season. 20 games isn’t necessarily a small sample size, but boy, plenty was going right despite a pretty tough schedule. That stretch was more fun than anything fans had seen in at least three years. Honestly, they can’t be blamed for such success clouding judgment. It had been way too long.
I was never all that comfortable with the new, incredibly lofty expectations that success brought upon such a young roster. This isn’t to put myself on any kind of high horse. I remain an idiot. It just felt counterproductive to see those wins as anything more than fun in the moment.
Similarly, I don’t find myself attributing anything more than youth to losses as the Lakers deal with injuries and an overall more-talented, older NBA. Of course this stretch has been tough to deal with. Injuries suck. Losing sucks. Sucking sucks. But that doesn’t mean going 1-10 can’t also be productive for the team, or its fans.
The lesson: Young teams face ups and downs more often and in a more dramatic fashion than those that have been there before. While it’s all too easy to fly off the handle with the good and the bad, finding and maintaining some kind of middle ground is a much healthier experience, for everyone involved.
Again, I’m as guilty as anyone. This is mostly advice from experience. Remember, this took a day too long to draw the connection between that Charlotte game and this season — an oversight that can be attributed to the failure to see the big picture as the moment clouds judgment.
So, as the schedule lightens up and (hopefully) guys get healthy, maybe the Lakers will go on another run like we saw to start the season. Maybe we’ll see another 65-point-plus first half. We know they’ll struggle. The key, however, is how we react along the way.