Of all of the teaching challenges Darvin Ham has had this season, this may’ve been the hardest.
After a tough 12-day journey that started with a flight to Dallas late on Dec. 23, the Lakers crossed three time zones Tuesday to return again to Los Angeles, the place the Heat have been ready since Sunday.
And to make issues worse, Ham wouldn’t have LeBron James.
“Next man up,” Ham stated critically earlier than cracking. “Somebody’s gonna have to give us 43, 15 and nine.”
With James house sick with what the Lakers known as a “non-COVID illness,” the short-handed Lakers had even much less firepower than traditional. The workforce, after all, was nonetheless with out Anthony Davis and, in a growth, needed to play with out Lonnie Walker IV due to knee tendinitis. Add in Troy Brown Jr. being sidelined at halftime due to a sore quad muscle and all of the sudden the Lakers’ bench turned the least densely populated actual property downtown.
It solely acquired worse, Dennis Schroder injuring his proper ankle late within the fourth.
Underneath all of these circumstances, an in depth sport can be validation for the Lakers’ tradition underneath Ham — one constructed on toughness.
Circumstances, although, imply nothing within the standings.
However wins, just like the Lakers’ unlikely 112-109 victory Wednesday night time at Crypto.com Enviornment, positively depend.
“We had multiple big plays from multiple players,” Ham stated after. “… Everyone just banded together. That’s what we have to be about.”
Schroder performed by means of the ankle ache, hitting big photographs and clutch free throws. Russell Westbrook did slightly of every little thing and Thomas Bryant continued to fill in for Davis admirably.
Schroder scored a season-high 32 factors, together with the workforce’s final two factors on free throws, within the Lakers’ third straight win.
“We all knew that everybody had to step up…play together,” Bryant stated. “Talk. Communicate. Be the most competitive team out there.”
With tons of hustle and toughness, the Lakers set the tone early, opening a 13-point lead as their Westbrook-led second unit dominated the Heat reserves.
However mounting turnovers along with the Lakers’ incapability to cease Miami’s finest gamers — Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo — helped the Heat chip away and finally lead.
The Lakers would once more push forward, main by six with two-plus minutes to go, however the Heat would minimize it to at least one earlier than Schroder and Westbrook closed the door simply sufficient. Schroder scored 14 factors within the fourth.
Adebayo completed with 30 factors and 13 rebounds and Butler had 27 however missed a possible tying three-pointer on the buzzer from the suitable wing.
Westbrook scored 21 off the bench with eight rebounds and 9 assists. Bryant had 21 factors and 9 rebounds, Austin Reaves scored 11 and made a clutch go within the ultimate minute and Wenyen Gabriel scored 10.
Seldom-used Kendrick Nunn even performed by means of some shoulder ache to attain 9 in 15 key minutes.
The Lakers hope to get considerably more healthy by Friday’s house sport towards Atlanta.
Earlier than the sport, Ham stated James was coping with what sounds just like the “common cold.”
“We told him to shut it down,” Ham stated. “Stay at the house. Get fluids, get meds and try to get better.”
Walker’s knee harm comes as a little bit of a shock after the athletic guard sat out the 2 earlier video games due to a bruised tailbone. Ham stated he acquired a MRI on Tuesday after the workforce’s return to Los Angeles.
“It was something that was discovered,” Ham stated pregame. “He started having a little bit of problems with it, and it’s normal for a kid that plays the way he plays: athletically and above the rim. And just running up and down the court, you’re gonna have the little bit of tendinitis, especially off the knee that you rely on heavily.
“So we’re managing that and just trying to bring him along slow — in terms of him just not causing ripple effects suffering from that issue.”
The Lakers weren’t going to make excuses for his or her scenario — Ham particularly. However the actuality meant that good effort and combat can be a win in its personal proper.
Probably the most thrilling a part of the night time, although, was that the wholesome Lakers determined down the stretch that “effort and fight” wouldn’t be adequate.
“We know we’ve let some games get away from us, some games we should’ve won. Nothing we can do about it now,” Ham stated. “… I think we’re better for it.”