In what has been something of a rarity for the Los Angeles Lakers this season, the group as a whole displayed good effort on both ends of the floor for almost all 48 minutes of their game against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday. It took overtime to settle the contest in spite of that, but it was an encouraging sign nonetheless.
But as the Lakers try to build themselves up to contender status over the next months, it’s essential that they do the little things that they can control. According to Avery Bradley, that starts with the energy that they play with.
“It’s been a lot of games,” Bradley said of the Lakers losing focus after the team’s loss to the Knicks on Tuesday. “We can’t just turn it off and on. We’re not good enough yet. We have to go out there and have the mindset from jump ball and just play as hard as we can and have each other’s back. Whenever you dig a whole like that, we ran out of energy going into the fourth quarter and we just have to be better.”
Effort is particularly important for a team with as many veterans as the Lakers have. A young team may be able to play catchup on a nightly basis, but the Lakers — with six players 33 or older — can’t. Or, at the very least, shouldn’t.
Now, is it reasonable to expect everyone to play like it’s Game 7 of the NBA Finals every time they’re on the court? Probably not, but it’s more than fair to expect more consistent effort than what they’ve shown over the last 20 games, especially on the defensive end.
Because for all of the talk of the Lakers’ offensive scheme being underwhelming, it’s clear that this team looks its best in transition and, as Russell Westbrook said earlier this season, it’s hard to play downhill when you’re constantly taking the ball out of the basket.
The hope is that time and more favorable results like the one the team got on Wednesday will lead to more inspired play from the Lakers, but if it doesn’t, then they may want to reevaluate the type of players they have on their roster before the trade deadline.