The Los Angeles Lakers had their finest performance of the early season on Friday night as they dominated the Golden State Warriors, handing head coach Luke Walton his first win against his former team.
Emotions were high following the win with rookie Brandon Ingram even going so far as to say that the win shows the Lakers can be contenders this year. Walton, however, refuses to get too high after the win, and is trying to keep things level.
According to Tania Ganguli of the LA Times, Walton put the Lakers through a long practice as he is worried about the team coming out flat against Phoenix on Sunday night:
The Lakers had a long practice today as they turned the page to Phoenix. Luke Walton admits he thinks they might come out flat tomorrow.
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) November 5, 2016
Walton’s worries about his young team are completely understandable. It’s arguable that the Lakers benefitted on Friday night from the exact thing Walton is concerned about going into Sunday. The Warriors came out completely flat against the Lakers and some believe the team’s emotional victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder the night before played a role.
For a young team, keeping emotions in check can be difficult and Walton knows that. Young teams tend to play to the level of competition and don’t always handle success well, often playing terribly against lesser competition after big wins against better teams.
Walton has been talking all year about not getting too high or too low and Sunday’s game against the Suns will be the perfect test of that. The Suns are 2-4, but like the Lakers they have a lot of young talent and have had some close losses against good teams early this season.
Keeping a high level of play will be crucial if the Lakers plan on taking that next step. Not having a hangover following Friday’s win will definitely make Walton very happy.