The Lakers have won 4 straight games, their most since winning 5 straight to end last season and, before that, since they won 5 straight under Mike D’Antoni to make the playoffs and ruin Kobe’s achilles tendon.
So, yeah, let’s enjoy this little streak the team is on. It’s not like these have happened a lot lately.
The team will go for 5 straight today, in Memphis, against the Grizzlies. This the same Grizz who came to Los Angeles and beat the Lakers two days after Christmas to push LA’s losing streak to 4 straight games. The Lakers would end up losing five more games in a row, a 9 game swoon that inspired me to wonder if the well was poisoned and our guy Pete to give us 10 minutes of tape on the team not playing hard.
Times have changed, it seems.
The Lakers are back playing hard, but beyond that are playing together and expanding within their schemes to find longer stretches of effectiveness on both ends of the floor. Offensively they’re driving and kicking more, relying less on the P&R to set up individual offense, and working more as a unit than at any point during the year. Defensively they’re thriving in scramble situations, covering up for each other by helping the helper, and generally leveraging their length and athleticism to contest shots all over the floor.
These are things they will need against the Grizzlies today, even if Memphis’ record is bad. I don’t want to rehash how the Grizz beat the Lakers last game, but it’s important to understand that their general effort level combined with their ability to penetrate the paint (hi Tyreke Evans) and then finish inside really hurt the Lakers defense. LA will need to contain the dribble this game, but also rotate and then recover back to the perimeter to deter drives again.
Offensively, the Lakers simply need to continue to push the pace and try to control the tempo. Their ability to do this will be influenced by who is in the lineup, however. Lonzo Ball has a sore knee and an MRI revealed a minor sprain. He’s questionable for today’s game. Ingram, too, is questionable with his sprained ankle he suffered in Dallas. If neither of these guys play, it will be hard to control the pace like they want, but you’re not going to hear the Grizz giving any sympathy as they see Mike Conley in street clothes for what feels like the 100th straight game.
Of course, the hope is that the banged up Lakers can suit up and make a go of it. But even if they don’t, the Lakers need to just play hard and stick to the game plan. If they can do those things, they can compete. And, if a few bounces go their way, maybe even get that 5th straight win.
Where you can watch: 2:30pm start time on Spectrum Sportsnet and TNT.