Two things have become a constant for the Lakers this season, injuries to rotation players and changes to the starting lineup. Both were part of the Lakers’ recent game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
With Cam Reddish ruled out due to a left knee effusion, the injury forced head coach Darvin Ham to alter his starting five, going with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves and Taurean Prince.
Ham said the lineup would be the starting five for L.A. for the foreseeable future.
That seems just fine with Reaves, who has started the last seven games and played well with this unit, scoring 15 points on 6-10 shooting from the field, helping the Lakers defeat the second-best team in the West at home.
“This is the lineup that we started with this year and something that we feel comfortable with, have some chemistry together,” Reaves said after the win. “We like what we can do with this group. But it’s not just that, it’s everybody on the team. Vando was amazing tonight. He only took two shots but he impacted the game way more than what the stat sheet will show.”
In hindsight, the Lakers probably moved on from that opening lineup too quickly. They’ve tried benching Reaves, benching Russell and haven’t found a starting five they like that’s succeeded.
The Lakers are the second-worst first-quarter team in the league, with a plus-minus of -3.2 on the season. They won the first quarter on Monday versus the Thunder and kept that energy up throughout the game.
As Reaves mentioned, it’s not just about who starts, everyone who plays has to produce in their minutes. Role players like Jarred Vanderbilt and Christian Wood will be crucial to this team’s success.
However, the starting lineup on most teams plays the most minutes together, so they must mesh well and be a net positive for the team. It’s still a very early return, but there’s optimism that this starting five can succeed and help the Lakers win games in January.
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