he Los Angeles Lakers are still searching for answers. But, if Anthony Davis is correct, they will be hard-pressed to actively find the key to their troubles.
“There’s going to be our biggest downfall this year: Just been not being able to stay healthy,” Davis said via Spectrum SportsNet on December 31. “You already missing Cam [Reddish], [D’Angelo Russell], obviously, Gabe [Vincent] is out for a extended period of time. But then Rui [Hachimura] goes down. Now our rotation is smaller, you lose another body as far as scoring.”
For as much effort as goes into injury prevention these days, they are still inevitable.
But the most ominous part about Davis’ statement is that he and LeBron James — neither of whom have played more than 56 games in any of the last three seasons — have missed five games combined so far this season. And having them healthy has not solved their problems as it is.
The Lakers followed up a 133-point effort against the Charlotte Hornets with totals of 106 and 109 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves and New Orleans Pelicans, respectively.
After starting December with a three-game winning streak, they have gone 3-8.
After allowing a season-low 89 points to the Pelicans on December 7, they have allowed 120.5 points per game.
That is the 10th-most in the league in that 11-game span, per NBA.com.
“We gave up a lot of threes [to the Pelicans]. They had 10 in the first half,” Davis said. “It’s some guys that we wanted to shoot, and they made them. There’s nothing you can do about it. But I think our effort … was very low from the point of CJ [McCollum], a lot of his threes were butt naked, and that’s tough to deal with.
Opponents have shot 49.4% from beyond the arc against the Lakers in this stretch, the ninth-highest rate in the league.
The Lakers made a run to the Western Conference Finals on the strength of their defense.
Their offense ranked 19th during the season while their defense ranked 12th. Even as their offense checked in eighth in the postseason, the defense ranked fifth. This season, they rank 22nd on offense and 11th on defense.
In this recent stretch, their offense still ranks 22nd, but the defense has fallen to 20th. Davis thinks things could turn around soon, though, if the Lakers seize the opportunity.
Anthony Davis: Lakers Must ‘Take Advantage’ of Upcoming Schedule
“We’ve been a pretty good home team thus far, and now we got to take advantage of it,” Davis said. “The road has been very brutal for us. We get to sleep in our own beds and don’t have to worry about travel, use our own resources, get some practice time in, and let guys get healthy.”
The Lakers have played 19 (of 34) games on the road this season, the second-most in the NBA.
They are 6-13 away from Crypto Currency Arena and 11-4 within the friendly confines. The tough early slate could work to their benefit in that way, though injuries still linger as a significant hindrance.
“It’s going to be big for us to make this homestand a great one,” Davis said. “We got to take advantage of it, for sure.”
Lakers Injuries Piling Up Again
The Lakers had their full complement of rotation players for all of one game, a 16-point loss to the Chicago Bulls on December 20. Vincent is still out for another month at least after surgery to address a lingering knee injury.
Reddish missed the loss to New Orleans with a groin injury. It’s the same issue that kept him out of the win over Charlotte two games prior.
Hachimura previously missed time this season following surgery for a broken nose.
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