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    Lakers head back on the road looking to get out of post-tournament slump
    • December 19, 2023

    Anthony Davis stopped short of calling the Lakers’ play from over the last week a “championship hangover.”

    “I mean, we’re not losing by 20,” he said after Monday’s home loss to the New York Knicks. “We’re in every game. We’re fighting. Competing. Playing hard.”

    Added Davis: “I don’t think that it’s one of those.”

    But after the defeat to the Knicks – putting the Lakers (15-12) at 1-3 since winning the In-Season Tournament last weekend in Las Vegas – there was an awareness that they haven’t been as sharp as they were during the tournament, which they went undefeated in (7-0) to win the inaugural NBA Cup.

    And they aren’t alone, with the Indiana Pacers – the team they beat to win the tournament – being 1-4 since leaving Las Vegas.

    While Coach Darvin Ham made clear he isn’t one to make excuses, there was an acknowledgment of the factors that have provided his team with adversity.

    Since Thanksgiving, the Lakers have played nine of 12 games outside of Los Angeles – including the tournament championship victory over the Pacers on Dec. 9 that didn’t count in the regular-season standings.

    “Las Vegas wasn’t a long flight for us, but it’s just, obviously being within your normal schedule, it’s going to have an effect, be it positive or negative,” Ham said. “I thought it was more positive than negative for sure. But that said, there is a travel schedule.

    “No one’s going to feel sorry for you. Everybody goes through it, man. It’s a marathon of a league.”

    And with the Lakers’ upcoming three-game road trip, which starts on Wednesday in Chicago against the Bulls (11-17) before matchups against the Minnesota Timberwolves (20-5) on Thursday and Oklahoma City Thunder (17-8) on Saturday, more road-weariness is expected.

    “It’s tough,” Davis said. “For the whole month of December, we’ve really been on the road – and are gonna be on the road for probably the rest of December. But there’s nothing we can really do about it. It’s the schedule. Just gotta take care of our bodies and get some guys back hopefully within the next couple of games. But it’s definitely a mental challenge going on the road as much as we are right now.”

    The Lakers have also been beset by health problems.

    Davis, LeBron James and Jarred Vanderbilt have all missed a game because of injury in the last week. D’Angelo Russell and Christian Wood have recently missed a game because of a non-COVID illness. Ham also wasn’t at Sunday’s practice because of a non-COVID illness.

    The Lakers are still waiting on the return of guard Gabe Vincent, who has only played in four games and hasn’t played since Oct. 30 because of a left knee effusion (swollen joint).

    Ham said before Monday’s loss that Vincent “has come a long way” and that there are “a few more conditioning boxes” to be checked before the team makes the decision to make him active.

    “We got to get some rest and get healthy,” James said. “We want to finish out December the right way. There is no rest for the weary. We just got to mentally stay locked in and get ready for Chicago first, who got a big win [Monday] against Philly in Philly.”

    But the adversity they’re facing – road-heavy stretches and varying player health/availability – is life in the NBA.

    And it’s on the Lakers to figure out how to navigate the next 1½ weeks before a home-heavy stretch in January.

    “We’ve seen what we can do when we’re 100 percent healthy,” Davis said. “Just gotta get there. Just keep fighting, honestly. I mean, there’s nothing more we can say or do. Just take on the challenge. Every team is battling something. And we still have to find ways to win.”


    When: Wednesday, 5 p.m. PT

    Where: United Center, Chicago

    TV/Radio: Spectrum SportsNet, 710 AM

    ​ Orange County Register