After a really fun game that saw the Lakers suffer a close loss while D’Angelo Russell scored a career high 40 points this past Sunday, the Lakers find themselves back at Staples Center tonight to face the Clippers. Luke Walton has already said Russell will remain in the starting lineup next to Clarkson, Ingram, Randle, and Zubac, so any intrigue around that decision is gone. Russell will likely be tasked with chasing JJ Redick around screens defensively while Clarkson tries to handle CP3, but that’s already getting into details which only slightly matter to me.
That’s because with only 12 games left, I’m worried less about the specifics of the Lakers’ opponents and more about the players’ and team’s performance in a vacuum and compared to their own ability. To say this another way, the process of what the players do individually and how they perform as a collective when on the floor.
So, I want to see if Russell can continue to attack the paint. I want to see if Clarkson can continue to make good passes out of the P&R. I want to see Randle and Nance continue to shoot 3’s. I want to see Ingram continue to be assertive as a shooter. As a group, I want to see them make the extra pass, set good screens, and move well off the ball. Defensively I want them to…well, I want to see them engaged and making fewer mistakes while moving more on a string.
If these things happen, all while the team plays hard, I don’t care about the final score. We all know the lottery implications of losses anyway, so would anyone really be that upset about losses anyway. So, I want to see the team do the little things better; to get back to playing loose and fun. If they get down big, them trusting each other and battling as much as they can is all we can ask for. Against the Bucks and the Cavs, they showed they can do this. That they can play together, fight for each other, and not get overly down on themselves when things go wrong. If we can get another performance like those games tonight, I’ll take it. Let’s see what they can do.
Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on Spectrum Sportsnet.