Despite the extended absence of Lonzo Ball, the Los Angeles Lakers have played some of their best basketball of the season in recent weeks.
Since the rookie point guard was sidelined with an MCL sprain, the Lakers are 6-4 and have tallied victories against a trio of postseason-hopeful teams in the Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Additionally, since the calendar turned to 2018, L.A. is 10-7. easily their best mark of the season. The team has clicked offensively during the span, reaching triple-digits in points in seven consecutive games.
More impressively, however, has been the Lakers’ ability to close out tight games. According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Lakers are 6-0 since the start of the new year when the score is within five points during the final five minutes of a game.
Earlier in the season, the Lakers noticeably struggled closing out games. That’s due in part to their youth and inexperience, but the team’syoung core has since improved in that aspect with each ensuing opportunity it receives.
After posting a 3-2 record on their longest road trip of the season, the Lakers return home for a brief two-game stretch against the Phoenix Suns and Thunder. Then they had back on the road for three consecutive games before NBA All-Star Weekend kicks off at Staples Center on Feb. 16.
There’s still no timetable for Ball’s return to the lineup, but he may have further delayed a return as his knee did not respond well to an increase of on-court activity.
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