Lakers not feeling pressure as sprint to the finish begins

The Lakers arrived Tuesday at their follow facility and took a group photograph.They’ll start to know Wednesday if these smiles will be lasting.The sport in opposition to the Phoenix Suns in Los Angeles begins the ultimate 10 of a wildly up-and-down season, one wherein optimism slowly constructed over the past month regardless of the group by no means reaching .500.In a traditional season, which may sign some type of second to start to dash, the starter’s pistol firing for a second time to point the ultimate lap. On this season, Sport 72 is simply one other must-ish win.Whereas the sport in opposition to Phoenix is essential, so is the one Friday in opposition to Oklahoma Metropolis. And the 2 with Chicago and the video games in Minnesota, Houston and Utah, plus the one in opposition to the Clippers and two at dwelling to complete the season in opposition to the Suns and Jazz.With the play-in and playoff races so tightly packed, the Lakers have wanted to strategy the final month with a way of urgency.Having solely 10 video games left shouldn’t change that.Coach Darvin Ham mentioned this prolonged push hasn’t left his group mentally fatigued in any noticeable methods. He’s principally seen the other.“It’s precipitated them to return to the sport on excessive alert and excessive consciousness,” he mentioned. “Simply having one thing to play for. You’d be stunned how snug guys are with that versus having to play a meaningless sport. The truth that these video games carry a lot weight, I feel, is inflicting our guys to lock in additional. I don’t see any stress. I simply see guys figuring it out as a result of they wish to be part of this group stepping into the postseason and making a run.“So the stress, the nervousness, I don’t see that. My teaching workers and I, we talked about that this morning, they don’t see that from our gamers. I see a little bit of starvation.”For those who’re on the lookout for a date when the Lakers’ “push” started, Feb. 11 is a begin. That was the primary sport after the commerce deadline when the group’s new acquisitions had been obtainable. Within the 16 video games this model of the Lakers has performed, they Lakers have received 10 instances regardless of LeBron James taking part in solely thrice.Ham mentioned Tuesday there’s no change for the Lakers on the harm entrance. So far as the sport plan in opposition to the Suns, it’s clear.It’s additionally the one they’ll have 9 extra instances after Wednesday.“You already know, to return out and simply attempt to be the perfect model of ourselves as all the time. Simply trying to proceed to construct on what we’re doing nice and attempt to change and alleviate what we’re not doing so nice,” Ham mentioned. “In opposition to that group, our protection needs to be sharp. We are able to’t out them on the free-throw line and have to pay attention to them in transition. And now we have to carry them to at least one possession. … After which on the opposite aspect of the ball, simply to make it possible for we’re giving ourselves an opportunity on the offensive finish by being disciplined in our operating habits and taking good care of the ball. Having a extremely excessive degree of ball safety. It permits us to get the kind of photographs that we wish to get. And simply to consistently love and reside within the paint.“However [it’s] not simply Phoenix — that’s our message going ahead no matter who we play.”The truth is, although, it’s not simply whom the Lakers play — it’s how the groups they’re racing in opposition to carry out. And that’s altering nearly nightly.It means the Lakers can have just one focus.“If we’re not ready, if we’re not targeted on how we will be the perfect model of ourselves, pulling in numerous moments, and not-so-good moments, good moments, from these earlier video games and placing them collectively and taking a look at them beneath the classes that we’ve been emphasizing all 12 months to how we will be higher at these key eventualities and these key segments of the sport, then we’re fooling ourselves if we predict we’re gonna have the ability to advance past this common season,” Ham mentioned. “So a number of the main focus has been — undoubtedly taking a sneak peek right here and there on the standings — however the important thing focus simply has been for us to get higher and enhance daily.”