While there has been talk about Anthony Davis being one of the faces of the franchise, this is still a LeBron James-led team. After a poor performance yet again against a Denver team that’s best the purple and gold for six straight games, you want a response from your leaders.
The response that really matters is the performance against the Phoenix Suns in the home opener at Crypto.com Arena, but for now, James didn’t mince words about his dissatisfaction.
“We got to learn from that, be better from that, understand that if we don’t get back in transition where they’re very good and if we don’t box out when they shoot the ball and give them second-chance points, they’re already too elite offensively,” Davis said. “So, you’re allowing them easy baskets in transition and then you’re allowing them easy putbacks on second-chance points. You can’t do that against them.”
While Denver stayed in control the entire night, it was their 30-24 first quarter that gave them that edge.
“It’s difficult when you’re trying to fight uphill. They came out, they was scorching there for a second,” Ham said. “They made some big shots in some key moments. And, obviously, they were riding off their championship high. At the end of the day, there’s a lot of things – obviously, first game of the season – we have to get better at and improve. Against a team like that, you make any mistake, you come out flat, they’re going to make you pay for it. Our biggest thing, again, is meeting aggression with aggression.”
The question is, can the Lakers match the aggression of Western Conference opponents without LeBron James for approximately 18 minutes if he’s playing under 30 a night? It’s early and it’s important to note a key rotation player, Jarred Vanderbilt, was unavailable due to injury. Still, the effort and execution on Tuesday left a lot to be desired, minus a few notable highlights, such as Taurean Prince.
It’s understandable and probably the only sustainable option to have James at age 38 play a shift less a game, but replacing his production will be a challenge. Ham will have to find the perfect lineup that can replace some of the value James provides so he can get that extra rest. It might end with Ham making the right moves, but those moves won’t matter if the players don’t come correct. Hopefully, Tuesday was an anomaly and a sharper Los Angeles team will show up moving forward.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.