The Los Angeles Lakers are entering the last week of the season riding a four-game winning streak. The have beaten the like of the Memphis Grizzlies, San Antonio Spurs, Sacramento Kings, and Minnesota Timberwolves. All of the games have been close often coming down to the final minutes.
The highlight of the week was when D’Angelo Russell hit the game-winner Sunday night against the Wolves. He didn’t even know if he would play in the game after learning earlier in the day his grandmother had passed away.
The winning streak comes at a costly time for the Lakers as they look to increase their chances of the keeping their top-three protected draft pick. Here is what is trending up and trending down with the Lakers this week.
Ennis endured his most impressive week since becoming a Laker. In the four games this week, he finished in double figures in three of those. He scored a career-high 20 points on Sunday night. He also had 19 points against the Spurs last Wednesday. What’s been most impressive is his ability to get his teammates involved. In games against the Spurs and Timberwolves, he had six and five assists, respectively. His status is heading into next season is uncertain, but at the very least he deserves to be a training camp participant.
Robinson has continued his strong play as of late. Even though he hasn’t but up big scoring numbers, his hustle and energy is contagious amongst his teammates. So far this month he is averaging 10.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. His ability to impact games with his energy is great because even if his shot isn’t falling, he can still find ways to get involved in the game. He deserved to be on the team next season because he has shown that he counted on to be productive when called upon.
In the past week, the Lakers have shown the most heart since maybe the first week of the season. While it may be in the team’s best interest to get a top-three pick and possibly select a franchising player in this year’s draft, they are showing that becoming a better team is the primary goal finishing the season. Hopefully the way they finish the season is how they start next season.
Against the Timberwolves on Sunday night the Lakers allowed 81 points combined between Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. Luckily for the Lakers, no other Minnesota player finished with more than 12 points. It’s not secret that the Lakers need to become a better defensive team to be successful, and the sooner they do, the faster the path to playoff contention. Hopefully, the Lakers finish their two remaining games with an emphasis on defense so that they enter the offseason with something to be a little proud of.
Turnovers were a problem for the Lakers last week. In no game did they finish with less than 14 turnovers. The inability to take care of the ball is a huge setback for a team trying to take the next step. By giving away the ball, the Lakers are allowing the opposing team to get easy basket opportunities. With as many skilled ball handlers the Lakers have, it is unacceptable to have this many turnovers in a game. Ball security should always be a top priority heading into every single game.