Lakers newsletter: The next three games could be difficult
Hi, this is Dan Woike, Lakers beat writer for the Los Angeles Times, and this is the latest Lakers newsletter, where the coupon code HURRYBACKLEBRON gets you 20% off any purchase over $150.
The good news is that the Lakers responded to a disastrous effort against Toronto on Sunday, a loss that was capped with a Festivus-level of grievance airing. They unearthed a frantic defensive effort against the Nuggets, mucking the game up enough to steal a win despite scoring only 93 points.
But the next three games are going to be ROUGH, the Clippers and the Trail Blazers on back-to-back nights and the Suns on Sunday. The Lakers are going to need to be better on offense to avoid a three-game losing streak, the kind of thing that would almost certainly drag them down into play-in tournament position.
But is all hope lost? Nah, the Lakers have a few ways still to win some games, even if LeBron James and Dennis Schroder aren’t on the floor.
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Ask the rich guy to do it.
If there’s one player who can save them, though, it’s the max-salaried, lone-browed superstar that is coming off his best game since returning from calf and Achilles injuries.
Anthony Davis, according to scouts and executives who have watched him, has never looked like himself this season. Rival evaluators felt Davis was out of shape early in the season after the Lakers’ compressed offseason. He never met the standards set for himself and had mostly disappointed…until Monday.
Davis looked as Davis-y as he has in months against the Nuggets, coming up with huge blocked shots and playing with a lot of offensive confidence, even if the jumper is still not falling.
But most importantly, he didn’t look hurt or hesitant, even trying to jump over Nikola Jokic for a dunk at one point in the first half – a great sign that he knows he’s got to do some special stuff for the Lakers to win.
The flame throwers
The Lakers aren’t a good enough three-point shooting team to bomb their way out of this trouble, but they do have enough streaky shooters where they could catch fire and change a game.
Kyle Kuzma, Ben McLemore, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – even Markieff Morris who hasn’t made a triple in weeks (really) – all can get hot fast. And if the Lakers have a night where the rim looks a little big from three, maybe they’re able to steal a win and buy a little space while they wait for James (and eventually Schroder).
In games where the Lakers have made 13 or more threes this season, they’re 15-3. This is the formula that helped in wins at Sacramento, at the sun-birding Toronto Raptors and at Charlotte last month.
If this is going to happen, the numbers say it’ll be Friday in Portland, when the Lakers face a Trail Blazers defense that’s in the bottom third of opponent three-point percentage this season.
Call on The Wolf
Maybe the answer has been there all along in Marc Gasol, former Lakers’ draft pick and current media darling after comparing himself to Winston Wolf in “Pulp Fiction”, a character played by Harvey Keitel with a very special skill – he fixes problems.
It was a pristine reference, a classic player comparing himself to a classic actor in a classic role in a classic movie.
The best part of The Wolf reference? He’s not really THAT in Pulp Fiction – a character in a scene that eats up the screen time he’s given.
The Lakers can’t rely on Gasol to be their guy – it’s not 2016 anymore. But in the right spots at the right moments, like he did on Monday, Gasol can turn a game. And the Lakers might need him to do it again.
See? It’s not all bad.
Song of the Week
“While my Guitar Gently Weeps” – Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Steve Winwood, Dhani Harrison and Prince (LIVE 2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction)
As the regular season begins to fade out, a reminder that sometimes the best stuff can happen when things are wrapping up. Take this iconic moment from 2004, when Prince just ethers the stage with one of the all-time great guitar solos to wrap up a wonderful song that already had a killer outro.
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