Tyson Chandler has seen a lot in his 18 years in the NBA. He’s definitely seen enough to know that there aren’t a whole lot of teams good enough to win without playing hard, and he surely knows that a Los Angeles Lakers team missing key players like LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma and Rajon Rondo aren’t one of them.
After the Lakers got stomped by the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday, Chandler told reporters that there wasn’t really anything complicated that the team needs to do better. They just need to want to win (via Spectrum Sportsnet):
“We’ve got to do a better job of starting and competing. I think we come out and just try to get a feel for the game and we can’t do that right now. We’ve got to come out fighting from the beginning, especially with guys out. We already know that we’re missing bodies, so we’ve got to make the game scrappy, we’ve got to play downhill. I think that would be to our advantage.”
The Lakers haven’t gotten off to fast starts over their last two games, posting their second-lowest scoring first quarter of the season (19 points) against the Wolves after allowing a 24-8 game-opening run to the New York Knicks last Friday.
Lakers head coach Luke Walton hasn’t been happy about that trend:
“Defensively it’s unacceptable that we (allowed) that many points... That’s the second game in a row a team has came in in the first quarter and just scored at will on us, and it didn’t seem like we engaged ourselves in the fight until the second unit came in.
“We’ve got to get better. We’ve got to figure that out, otherwise it’s going to be really hard if you start every game down double-digits and you’re trying to scratch and crawl your way back into a game.”
Walton also critiqued Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and the rest of the Lakers’ starters for not showing enough “passion and fire” against the Timberwolves, while Ball put the onus on himself for not scoring enough, something he says he needs to change moving forward.
All that talk is nice, but it ultimately means nothing if changes aren’t made. Chandler outlined how the Lakers have to alter their approach if they want to avoid starts like that moving forward:
“Competing. Competing in every spot, competing for every possession. We can’t afford to take possessions off at this point. We’ve got to make it a dire situation. We’ve got to play that way.”
Chandler may feel differently, but another read on this is that the Lakers don’t have to make this a dire situation. It already is a dire situation. Very few teams are equipped to survive life without their top-two scorers and playmakers, and without James, Kuzma and Rondo, that’s where the Lakers are at. The team is going to have to play their asses off in order to have chances while those players sit — including when they take on the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night.
If they don’t, then they are just going to keep getting the same results they’re so disappointed with.
For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. All stats per NBA.com and Basketball-Reference.com. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.