After injuries to LeBron James and Rajon Rondo, the Los Angeles Lakers lost five out of their first six games without them. Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram struggled to take on larger roles, but they’ve rebounded and the team has won two games in a row.
As the young core was adjusting to playing without their two leaders, they either started games off slowly or could not close them out.
With Ingram, Josh Hart, Kyle Kuzma and Ball asked to do more, head coach Luke Walton initially felt they were putting more on themselves, but not in a selfish manner.
However, after Walton called out Ingram and Ball following the loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, they have since responded against the Dallas Mavericks and Detroit Pistons.
Along with Kuzma’s return from a lower back contusion, Walton believes the young Lakers have taken a major step.
“I thought our team showed a lot of growth from the post-LeBron and Rondo injuries,” Walton said after the 113-100 win over the Pistons.
“There were times in that game tonight where in previous games we would’ve bled points and what not and started taking quick shots. I thought our guys did a nice job staying composed, continuing to share the ball, continuing to make plays. And ultimately, winning by competing on the defensive end.”
As James is set to be re-evaluated Friday, it remains unclear when he will return from his strained groin.
While the young core might have felt pressured to fill James’ shoes, they are learning there are different ways to win games. With there being no pecking order, the Lakers are playing together and have a blueprint without James and Rondo.
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