Heading into the season, fans of the Los Angeles Lakers might have been concerned that that team wasn’t built to win ugly. The night after Thanksgiving, the Lakers went out and proved they can.
LeBron James was impressed by the Lakers’ effort — defense that led to some free tacos for all those in attendance Friday night. The Lakers are talented enough to win on nights where they don’t have it physically, but finding a way to make it work on nights where the opposite is true is a huge development, as James explained after the game.
“Over the course of an 82-game season you’re going to have games where you have to win it defensively, no matter how you’re playing offensively, and that’s what we did tonight,” James told reporters after the 90-83 win.
Lakers head coach Luke Walton was similarly pleased with his team’s ability to win in the muck.
“Not a pretty win, but we won with our defense tonight. We talked before the game, the first home game back from a road trip is always difficult, and all I asked was for the guys to give the energy and effort, and get that crowd going. And I thought we did a really good job of playing with a competitive spirit and fighting on the defensive end,” Walton said.
“You have to want it and you have to be willing to work, and our guys do that,” Walton continued. “We’ve got guys who they’ve made a commitment to themselves and to our group what they want to be defensively this year, and they’re working towards it.”
Lakers guard Lonzo Ball agreed that the team is finally starting to get in sync on that end.
“Five guys on a string. All talking and moving as one. That’s what we did tonight,” Ball told reporters. “Defense definitely got us the win today.”
The Lakers have had to find a couple different ways to beat the teams they’ve beaten over the last couple weeks. That they have been able to win without relying solely on scoring is a huge development — not just for what the Lakers are hoping to accomplish as a team, but also in terms of what they are trying to show individually at the various stages of their careers.
On any given night, the Lakers are going to have to find some way to win. Some nights, it will come down to how talented they might be offensively, and especially individually. Other nights, whether or not the Lakers are able to come through with a win will boil down to whether they are willing to collectively commit to what it takes to win a gritty, defensive game.
Friday night, they showed they are willing to make that commitment. Given what’s on the line over the next few years, this is quite the development.