Yes, there are still games to play. And while there is a growing agitation from fans about the on-court product and some of the machinations involved with producing that product, there really is no escape. The Lakers are not a good team right now and some of the decisions which are going into this final stretch of games for an evaluation period only serve to exasperate some of this team’s short comings.
To be clear, I don’t think this is solely a coaching or players issue either. I don’t necessarily agree with D’Angelo Russell coming off the bench. I don’t think shifting the starting lineup seemingly every game is to any of the players’ benefits. I also don’t think the players should be let of the hook for making some of the mistakes they do, for not playing hard for longer stretches, nor for some of their overall poor play. More than one thing can be wrong and from more than one side in all this.
What needs to be consistently reiterated, however, is that while so many things can be done differently, I don’t think we could be expecting different results at this point. This team wouldn’t suddenly be winning games if Russell and Clarkson started together or if Julius Randle and Russell played harder defensively for longer stretches. This team simply doesn’t have enough experience yet nor does it have the type of high talent veteran who can be a fulcrum for what the team wants to do schematically on both ends of the floor. When these two things are the case, it’s going to be hard to win games.
All of the above has little to do with the game against the Bucks tonight and for that I apologize. The fact is, though, is I don’t actually have much to say about the Bucks. I love Giannis. I feel bad for Jabari Parker who tore his ACL again. I’m happy that Khris Middleton is back in the lineup after tearing his hamstring off the damn bone before the season. I also don’t know if Jason Kidd is a good coach or not. These are general thoughts about the opponent, but they tell you nothing about this matchup.
But, really, what does that matter? These last games of the year actually have very little to do with the opponents wearing the other jersey and everything to do with what the Lakers – players and coaches – do to try and get something out of this time on the floor together. This is a young roster with a young coach that is doing a lot of losing. They need reps, but they need to try and extract something of value from them and not just frustration. After all, fans feel enough of that for everyone.
Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on Spectrum Sportsnet.