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    Lakers’ offense found its groove during homestand. Will that carry over to 6-game trip?
    • January 26, 2024

    LOS ANGELES — The Lakers turned a long-standing struggle – offensive production – into a strength during their homestand that’s taken up most of January.

    The question is whether it will translate to their upcoming six-game road trip – and if they make it happen while also shoring things up defensively.

    The Lakers wrapped up their lengthy, broken-up stay at Arena by scoring a season-high 141 points in their nine-point win over the Chicago Bulls Thursday evening.

    The victory wasn’t just appropriate because it allowed them to leave Southern California on a high note, going 6-4 on homestand (6-5 including Tuesday’s “road” loss to the Clippers), but because it further illustrated the progress they’ve made offensively this month – especially over the last two weeks.

    “We’re just playing together, sharing the basketball,” Anthony Davis said. “When you play the right way, good things tend to happen. We’re not being selfish. We’re not holding the ball too long. Guys are making the right plays. If you see a crowd, we’re moving on. Guys are being quick decision-makers passing, shooting or driving it. When we play free, and play together like we are sharing the basketball, then the assist numbers go up.

    “And guys are able to shoot the ball with confidence and know that, ‘the ball will come to me if I’m open.’ Instead of getting the ball and trying to force one because you haven’t touched it in a while.”

    The Lakers entered their homestand with an offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) of 112.4 (23rd in the league). Back on Jan. 9 the offensive rating was 111.7 (23rd), but their 132-131 win over the Toronto Raptors sparked an offensive turnaround. They’ve had an offensive rating of 120.8 in the nine-game stretch since that victory for the league’s 10th-best mark in said stretch.

    They’ve recorded at least 27 assists in all nine of those games, averaging a league-best 31.2 in the last two weeks.

    “We’re just playing the right way,” LeBron James said. “Guys are feeling very comfortable out there. We’ve got guys that can make shots. We’ve got guys that can make plays. Doesn’t matter who’s shooting.”

    They also shot 42.1% on 3s in those nine games.

    “It’s proof of guys playing with pace, guys being disciplined with their running habits,” coach Darvin Ham said. “Whether or not they’re going to get the ball, they’re doing their job in terms of creating space for their teammates, putting pressure on the defense to flatten out and collapse. Doing a great job of getting the ball to the paint, some rim attacks as well as some paint attacks, which leads to kickouts. That allows for more 3s and more 3s in rhythm when you’re playing with a lot of pace and force.

    “But I attributed that to them physically doing and carrying out what we’ve been watching in film, the things we’ve been pointing out in film, the things we’ve been touching on in the walkthroughs, our offensive breakdowns. And it’s paying off. I think those 3s become a lot easier when everyone is doing things with a sense of urgency and no one is walking or watching. Everyone is active in some type of way.”

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    The challenge for the Lakers during this trip will be trying to maintain similar offensive production while shoring up their defense. They’ve been a below-average defensive team for over the last 23 games after being top-10 for the season’s first 23 games.

    “We can be a top offensive team and a top defensive team,” Davis said. “Cam [Reddish] is out. Not sure how long but you’re missing another defensive guy. The thing that’s been hurting us has just been the rebounding.

    “Being able to rebound the basketball will help us a ton. Guys are getting second-chance points and it’s kind of hurting the [defensive] rating.”


    Reddish (sprained right ankle) will be re-evaluated in two weeks, the team announced Friday morning.

    He suffered the injury during the fourth quarter of the loss to the Clippers. He didn’t play against the Bulls.

    Reddish played just two games before suffering the ankle injury after missing three consecutive games because of left knee effusion (swelling).


    When: Saturday, 5:30 p.m.

    Where: Chase Center, San Francisco

    TV/radio: ABC (Ch. 7)/710 AM

    ​ Orange County Register