Sometimes, on Earth, staying positive is kind of tricky. You can tell yourself over and over again that looking on the bright side is the correct thing to do, and that there are more reasons to be optimistic than the opposite. Still, no matter how much you try and convince yourself that the whole world smells like candy canes, you still have to take the occasional hammering from our good friend life.
That’s sort of how I’m beginning to feel about this Lakers season. There are countless reasons for encouragement, but for a franchise that’s historically prone to catching some breaks and seeing the cards fall their way, we’re just not seeing what we’ve grown so accustomed to. This particular Lakers squad seems snakebit – always making one or two great steps in the right direction, only to then be loaded onto a bus and taken backwards about two and a half miles. Saying the injuries have piled up for this team is greatly underestimating all piles that came before. At this point, getting through an entire 48 minute session of basketball without losing a member of the team for two weeks sounds like a distant fantasy.
Yet still! Hope remains! And, actually, this team is still doing pretty okay!
Now, admittedly, I might already be heading down a path that’s going to have me looking (and living) like Woody Harrelson in the 2009 masterpiece 2012, but this is the hill I’m choosing to die on — this Lakers team is the beginning of something special. I know it. You know it. Vegetable lasagna knows it.
Right now the Lakers are 10-11. That’s good enough for 9th place in a crowded Western Conference. So far they’ve defeated Houston (13-7), Oklahoma City (12-8), Chicago (11-7) and Golden State (nobody cares go Lakers). Nearly half their wins are against teams in the top-five of their respective conference. This young team has proven already that they can hang with the best in the league. Sure they’ve had some bad losses too, but consistency is one of the toughest things to develop for a team. I’m more encouraged by the fact that this squad, even with all the injuries, can get up for —and be competitive with — the good teams in this league, than I am discouraged by losses to Dallas or Minnesota, the two current Western Conference cellar dwellers.
Following Friday night’s loss to the Raptors, Luke Walton told reporters he didn’t think his squad was mentally ready to compete. Julius Randle said “we didn’t come out with the right mentality.” Mike Trudell even followed up, asking Randle if that was his message or one from his coach, and Julius reiterated that it was his personal takeaway from the loss. This team is on the same page, and they’re working in the right direction. It’s just not an easy process. And as someone that doesn’t mind obliterating dead horses, the injuries reeeeeeeally aren’t helping matters much.
Remember way back on Tuesday, when the Lakers lost an ugly one in New Orleans, 105-88? That was a pretty dreary night in Lakerland. But the next night they traveled to Chicago and toppled known Laker-killer Jimmy Butler and the Bulls without D’Angelo Russell or Nick Young. Maybe we’ll see something similar Saturday night in Memphis. After all, both were 5:00 PST start times, so maybe that’s something.
(See how good I’m getting at sneaking tune-in info into these? I deserve a raise.)
On a final note, every one of you better be asking Santa for an injury-free Lakers squad this month or I’m holding all of you responsible for this continued madness.