It seemed only five minutes before the Lakers’ weary defense saw the Sacramento Kings’ short, and perhaps starving, score helplessly in the third overtime on Friday night without any notable resistance.
So when the Lakers see the Kings again, this time in Sacramento on Tuesday, they’ll probably play with a few extra fights, ready to beat a team they believe has won them.
“We should play with this kind of aggression on the field every time,” coach Frank Vogel said on Monday. “We want to be a team that is proud of that.”
The Lakers haven’t been that type of team – they haven’t been able to consistently do much this season other than confuse. Yet the team is slowly finding its identity as it recovers.
One wrinkle that looks like it might be here to stay, with LeBron James playing the center of the team in some lineups with Court to Anthony Davis.
“He’s the most versatile player in the game,” Vogel said of James. “Point play ability, center play ability — but the definition of those positions is mixed in the modern NBA. Centers bring it up and take the initiative. Point guards roll into the basket.
“It’s a different sport now, but for someone who can be effective as a roller or as a playmaker with the ball, that’s just an incredible weapon.”
Finding ways to use your weapons most effectively has been one of the biggest challenges in the first quarter of the season. Playing the Lakers harder than their opponents has also been one.
Vogel questioned the Lakers’ defensive effort against the Detroit Pistons on Sunday, and he reiterated that the Lakers haven’t necessarily been consistent.
“We’re working on it,” Vogel said. “We’re challenging our guys to make sure we bring it up. And part of that is just a different group. It’s easy to tell when teams do poorly or aren’t familiar with each other, So it is easy to say that there is no urgency. This is the habit of everyone looking inside from outside. But we have to establish unity, and it takes time.
They also have to be healthy.
While Trevor will not be on the court against the Ariza Kings, he is making progress in his return from ankle surgery. Ariza is running on her full body weight and is on court for shooting assignments as she tries to start her season.
“I don’t have a fixed date or anything like that. It’s all when doctors clarify or the way my body feels and responds to the more load, the more work,” Ariza said on Monday. “It’s kind of a gauge of when I’m safely out there. I can get out.”
Vogel said Ariza’s presence will help the Lakers do what they want to do on defense, a traditional center with smaller lineups.
“We think he’s going to be a real key to unlocking the identity of this team,” Vogel said of Ariza.
In the short term, though, finding an edge is all there is to do.
When: 7 pm, Tuesday
In the air: TV: Spectrum Sportsnet; Radio: 710, 1330
Updates: Even though they started the game with a traditional center, the Lakers have committed to playing smaller lineups. This has given him some better stretches for a longer period. Avery Bradley (arm) and James (abdominal strain) are both listed as suspects, although James said he would play. The Kings will again attempt to attack the Lakers’ problematic defense from the perimeter, led by De’Aaron Fox.