After 172 days of Lakers basketball this season, it’s time to finally say goodbye to this historic disaster of a year for the purple and gold. A year that many will probably remember as the worst contending season in franchise history, if they haven’t already decided to erase it from their memory. No more painfully watching this team lose, no more evenings spent seeing them serve as the biggest joke in basketball.
Goodbye to all the false hope we had for this team. Goodbye to all the times they led by as many as double digits only to blow it in the last few minutes of the game. Goodbye to all the drama (or maybe not). Goodbye to Russell Westbrook’s missed layups. Goodbye to the roster-wide missed rotations and low-IQ plays. Goodbye to feeling horrible about wasting another great LeBron James year. Goodbye to having to watch this unwatchable basketball product. Goodbye to this disastrous regular season.
You won’t be missed.
What the Lakers will miss, however, is this year’s playoffs for the seventh time in nine seasons. This also means that tomorrow’s road game against the Denver Nuggets is well, kind of useless, at least based on what’s at stake. I’d love to give you a preview about how this could’ve been a potential playoff series in a few weeks, or maybe how Dwight Howard can once again turn into Batman to go after The Joker (AKA Nikola Jokic), but unfortunately, that’s not what this season had in store.
Instead, what we Lakers fans can perhaps look forward to in their last game of the season is the young and energized roster that will take the floor, a chance to watch the same lineup from Friday’s win against the Oklahoma City Thunder — which was headlined by three waiver adds (Stanley Johnson, Wenyen Gabriel, Mason Jones), an undrafted rookie (Austin Reaves), and Talen Horton-Tucker — that led the Lakers to their largest (19-point) victory in 2022.
Yes, that’s right. The Lakers’ most dominant victory this year happened when James, Westbrook, and Anthony Davis did not suit up. Oh, how fun it is to have young, determined, and energetic players again who make the game a joy to watch. And also to play a Thunder team playing only six guys in an effort to lose. But despite that caveat, hopefully, the last three games teach the Lakers a lesson about the importance of investing in hungry opportunistic players who actually deserve to be in the league.
Aside from learning from their mistakes, I hope that the Lakers remember the embarrassment they’re all probably feeling right now as they bid farewell to a forgettable nightmare of a year, and use this as motivation to attack next season. Whether that’s by finally putting a stop to all the finger-pointing going around within the organization right now or by actually coming together and moving forward from this year, it’s time to leave this horrible season behind.
The 2021-2021 Los Angeles Lakers season won’t be missed, but it could be the biggest lesson for the organization moving forward.
Notes and updates
- Just like in Friday, LeBron James (left ankle sprain), Anthony Davis (right mid-foot sprain), Carmelo Anthony (non-COVID related illness), Kendrick Nunn (right knee bone bruise) and Russell Westbrook (right shoulder soreness) are out. Meaning that Nunn has finally been ruled out for the season.
- Add Mac McClung to the list of the young Lakers we might see tomorrow. The team promoted the South Bay Laker to a two-way contract for tomorrow’s game.
- Eight Lakers scored double figures on Friday’s game against the Thunder including Reaves, THT, Jones, THT, Johnson, and Gabriel. Hopefully, they remain bright spots and compete against a Nuggets team that might need to win this game in order to overtake the Utah Jazz for the fifth seed in the Western Conference.
- The unfortunate news for the Nuggets is that Jamal Murray (torn left ACL) and Michael Porter Jr. (back) are not expected to play during the postseason, according to Charania.
- Lastly, I couldn’t end this preview without giving a shoutout to Frank Vogel, who potentially might be coaching his last Laker game. The defensive-minded coach will always be remembered for leading the team through a difficult season in 2020 and winning their 17th championship.
The last game of the season will tip off at 6:30 p.m. PT, with the game being televised on Spectrum SportsNet. Thanks for reading along with us all year, and here’s to the (merciful) end.
For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Nicole on Twitter at @nicoleganglani.