The Los Angeles Lakers played one of their worst games of the season on Saturday night. That they happened to win it is almost besides the point, as very few teams in the league besides the Warriors are bad enough to have allowed the Lakers to walk away with a victory on a night when they looked as lackadaisical as they have all year, and finished with a season-high 24 turnovers.
With just two games remaining until what appears to be a sorely needed 2020 NBA All-Star Break for the team, will they show more effort tonight when they host the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center?
It’s an open question. And if the Lakers are tired, it’s also hard to blame them for it. In an era sometimes seemingly defined by load management, the Lakers have zagged hard in the other direction, with stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis suiting up as often as humanly possible, with their teammates following their example. A few stinkers like Saturday night aside, the Lakers have went out and treated the regular season like it mattered, trying to win as many games as possible.
Their efforts have resulted in the team owning the best record in the Western Conference and second best in the entire league (39-12), but it also appears to have taken a toll on the team, as they’ve looked a bit sluggish for weeks, to say nothing of the emotional fatigue that dealing with the death of Kobe Bryant has put the organization through in recent weeks.
But whatever the reasons, the Lakers have lost five of their last 12 games since Jan. 15 after losing seven total over the 39 games before that. As noble as going hard so consistently has been, with the Denver Nuggets and LA Clippers gaining (both 37-16), it may be time for the Lakers to make sure they are as healthy and rested as possible heading into the postseason rather than fighting so hard for a home court advantage they may not get anyway, and arguably doesn’t really matter as much when considering how many Lakers fans fill out the “home” games of those two teams regardless.
But with just two games to go until the break, the Lakers may as well try to finish strong before taking some time off. The Suns offer as decent a chance as just about any team to give up a win, as they currently sit as the third-worst team in the West at 21-32 after they fell apart following a promising start.
The Lakers have won both of their previous games against the Suns this season, and even with how badly they’ve played for the last week or so, they should be able to make it 3-0 tonight. It’s just that if recent trends continue, they also just might make everyone watching sweat a little bit first.
Notes and Updates
- The only name on the Lakers’ injury report is Anthony Davis, who is probable to play with a with a sprain of his right index finger.
- The Lakers figure to be actively linked to names of players on the buyout and free agency market after Darren Collison decided to stay retired. You can keep track of every player they’re linked to by a reliable report here.
- Our own Christian Rivas will be filling in for me at the game tonight, so follow him on Twitter at @RadRivas for updates from Staples Center.
The Lakers and Suns will tip-off at 7:30 p.m. PST. The game will be televised locally on Spectrum SportsNet and nationally on NBA TV.