LOS ANGELES — The Lakers locker room was just about the quietest it’s been all season on Sunday night. The typical music blaring from LeBron James’ speaker was absent, as was most of the usual banter and playful teasing being shouted across the room.
But to paint a picture of a contrite team that had seen their confidence in themselves shaken by a rare defeat would be inaccurate. The Lakers may have had their 10-game winning streak come to an end in a 114-100 loss to the Dallas Mavericks, but their belief in themselves shined through nearly as loudly as the music that normally serves as a stylized soundtrack to their postgame remarks.
“We don’t want to lose two in a row. Ever,” said Lakers forward Anthony Davis. “So there’s definitely gonna be a bounce back game. We want to make sure that we correct everything that we did poorly tonight.”
No team ever wants to lose, obviously. But that’s just as obviously not realistic. Is Davis’ goal of the Lakers never losing two consecutive games any less outlandish? Well, probably not — especially not when they’re set to enter a brutally difficult December schedule — but James wasn’t a fan of the premise of the question.
“What do you mean how realistic is it? The realistic is the mindset,” James explained. “Sometimes you lose games in a row, it happens. But (it’s about) having that mindset and that approach.”
James said the Lakers have talked about not losing two games in a row since before their season even started, and it’s a mindset the whole team has gotten behind.
“Great teams, they try to not lose two in a row,” said Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma.
“That’s just something as a good team you don’t want to do. You don’t want to let stuff carry over from one game to the next,” echoed guard Alex Caruso.
It’s hard to blame the Lakers for still being confident in their abilities, even in their first game of a month that will see them play nine of their 14 games on the road, all while facing mostly teams with playoff aspirations. But the Lakers have those aspirations too, and they’re the ones that are tied with the Bucks for the league’s best record at 17-3, and still one of just three teams with a top-six offense and defense, according to NBA.com.
The Lakers’ mindset heading into their increasingly difficult schedule essentially seems to be — to paraphrase Rorschach from the graphic novel “Watchmen” — We’re not trapped in here with those teams. They’re trapped in here with us. It doesn’t really matter to them how realistic their odds are on paper of not losing two in a row the entire season. They believe they can prevail, and aren’t going to let one loss to start December change their mind.
Every loss seems like a bigger deal on the outside when a team has won as much as the Lakers have early on, but internally the team isn’t panicking. They talked about things they can improve (rebounding, playing with more intensity for longer stretches, executing against a zone defense), and while head coach Frank Vogel said that he’s interested to see how the team responds to this defeat because reacting to losses is part of the growth process, this is still a very, very confident group.
“I believe in our guys. If we play to our abilities, there’s nobody we can’t beat, and nowhere we can’t get a W,” Vogel said.
Before wrapping up his remarks to the media and heading off into the night, Davis was just as confident.
“We’re gonna be fine,” he said, and nothing about his tone suggested Davis planned on allowing the Lakers be anything but.
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.