After another road loss, the conversations postgame all revolved around the same key themes of energy, effort and contextualizing a short-handed team’s early season struggles.
While excuses for the Lakers are presentable and even fair to make, you didn’t hear any of that talk from the players or the coaching staff in Houston.
“It’s next man up. We’ve got a lot of guys. It’s the reason the roster is this way,” Taurean Prince said postgame. “There’s really no excuse. We’ve got guys that can step up to the plate and serve well in whatever role is needed that night. There’s a lot of guys on the bench that can arguably be starters in this league. When one man is down, we expect the other to pick up right where they left off or one or two guys to kind of compensate for the one that may be out. No excuse for us tonight. We definitely should have played better. Obviously, we gave up 32 in the first quarter, so it was a bad start from the jump.”
Before the start of the season, Rob Pelinka and the Lakers were commended for having one of the deeper teams in the league and with players out, this is where that depth should be showing its quality. So far, in the early parts of the season, it hasn’t.
It’s early and injuries are involved but the Lakers are currently 28th in offense, ahead of only Portland and Memphis. Just been a struggle to find any rhythm on that end & it’s leading to run outs for the other team.— Raj C. (@RajChipalu) November 9, 2023
One of the few bright spots in the defeat to the Rockets was Rui Hachimura. He returned after missing four games due to concussion protocols and had his best game of the year, scoring 24 points in 26 minutes and finally looking like the key rotation player the Lakers envisioned him as at the start of the season.
During his postgame presser, Hachimura tried to balance the line between not making excuses but understanding this isn’t the full roster’s potential when healthy.
“We got to get healthy but at the same time, we can’t make that excuse. Every team is like that,” Hachimura said. “We just got to get healthy. If somebody is injured, somebody can’t play, next man up. Everybody has to be ready. Like in this first quarter, we’ve been saying that the whole season the first quarter is the key.”
The Lakers might be reiterating that the first quarter is key, but you wouldn’t know it from their play. Los Angeles is now -74 cumulatively in the opening stanza of games and they’ve struggled in that department all season, even in their healthiest stints.
No one likes hearing excuses as to why things aren’t getting done. So it’s good the Lakers have avoided that temptation when speaking with the media. Fans just want changes to be made and adjustments to happen. Whether that’s getting players back or switching up the starting lineup so the Lakers don’t have to come from behind every second half to pull out a narrow victory.
Every Lakers fan wants to see this team reach their full potential and compete. This is essentially the same team that made it to the Western Conference Finals last year. That’s why you ran it back with most of that core because they were a good team. It’s time they start playing like it.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.