On Sunday, March 19, the Los Angeles Lakers overcame a two-game losing streak to defeat the Orlando Magic and keep their playoff hopes alive.
Throughout the contest, the Lakers show determination and grit, winning the majority of the 50/50 balls while also dominating on the glass and earning almost double the amount of opportunities at the free throw line.
During his post-game press conference, Franz Wagner spoke about how the Lakers won their battles to begin the game, allowing them to generate some easy offense and build a lead throughout the first half.
“I just know, from the feeling, starting off the game, a lot of offensive rebounds, a lot of 50/50 balls going their way, for some easy threes especially,” Wagner said. “And that kind of gave them the lead in the first two quarters.”
The Lakers managed to maintain the 10th spot in the Western Conference with their victory over Orlando but find themselves tied with the 9th-placed Minnesota Timberwolves and 11th-placed Utah Jazz with just 10 regular-season games remaining.
Lakers Anticipate LeBron James Return
LeBron James has missed the Lakers’ last 11 games with a foot injury, with the team going 6-5 in that period. However, according to Darvin Ham, in a quote that was reported by ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, the coaching staff is anticipating an eventual return to the court for LeBron this season.
“We anticipate him coming back at some point,” Ham said. “I think Bron, him being out has revealed that we have a lot of different weapons that are very capable players on both sides of the ball that can help us achieve the goal that we’re trying to achieve. And when he comes back, he’s just going to add to it.”
Lakers Working Out Tristian Thompson
After dealing with injury issues all season, it should have come as no surprise that the Lakers have found themselves short-handed in their final stretch of games, with both LeBron James and Mo Bamba ruled out.
However, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Lakers are looking at potential additions to fill their 15th roster spot. Both Tristian Thompson – an NBA champion with LeBron James during their 2016 season together with the Cleveland Cavaliers – and Tony Bradley are reportedly working out with the team.
“The Los Angeles Lakers are working out free agent centers Tristan Thompson and Tony Bradley this week, sources tell me and @jovanbuha. Thompson, an 11-year NBA veteran, was a key member of the 2016 championship Cavaliers team alongside LeBron James,” Charania tweeted.
Regardless of whether the Lakers bring in some front-court reinforcements or not, they will need to lock in for their final 10 games of the season, amassing as many wins as possible while they wait for LeBron to return to the court.
Otherwise, what has looked like a promising season since the February 9 trade deadline will quickly unravel and could potentially result in a second straight year of watching the playoffs from home.