Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Lakers say ‘passionate’ Saturday film session helped crack losing streak

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EL SEGUNDO — For the Lakers, their Sunday win over the Brooklyn Nets might just be what happens when teammates stop being polite and start getting real.

The foundation of the Lakers’ 116-103 victory – scrappy defense, free-flowing offense, competitive spirit – were all things that they spent time talking about during a Saturday film session, which All-Star big man Anthony Davis described as one of the keys to turning things around.

Then on a five-game losing streak, Davis said some uncomfortable truths showed up in the film room, especially after a loss to the Sacramento Kings that the Lakers felt they could have won.

“It was everything: lot of emotions, guys voicing their opinions, some back and forth,” he said. “But it was all for the nature of trying to get better. So even though it might be a back-and-forth, it was, ‘OK, I hear what you’re saying, you hear what I’m saying. So now, what’s the solution?’ Instead of just constantly butting heads.”

Davis offered perhaps the most public insight yet into a team, now 3-10, that has been embroiled in pressure and scrutiny since the season began. When Davis first arrived in L.A. in 2019, the Lakers started 24-3 and didn’t lose back-to-back games until Dec. 19. For this squad, only the Houston Rockets stand between them and last place in the Western Conference.

Of that eventual 2020 title-winning team, Davis said: “We didn’t need to have no truth-telling. It’s different when you’re 2-10.”

It’s common for Coach Darvin Ham to have sometimes brutally honest film sessions, especially given the team’s results. But one of the differences seems to be that the players were the ones driving accountability during this particular get-together. Ham described Davis, LeBron James, Patrick Beverley and Russell Westbrook as some of the leaders saying their piece.

“We saw bits and pieces in different pockets, but everybody was all in,” Ham said. “Everybody doesn’t like being 2-10, as we were going into that last game. It was just like, ‘Come on, man. Like, I’m looking in the room and I’m seeing talent. Everyone talks about the roster and all that, but we have enough talent to compete at a high level.’”

Westbrook was less forthcoming about the details of the film session, but he eventually offered that it was “beneficial to everyone” and said he thought the team is moving in the right direction.

Within the win, there were some key points of success that Ham and players talk about often: The Lakers tied their season-low in points allowed (103), and the Nets shot just 7 for 27 from 3-point range. The Lakers also beat Brooklyn on the boards (45-41) and had just nine turnovers.

Davis acknowledged that there have been times when the big personalities on the team have struggled to adjust to one another – citing his relationship with Beverley, one of the league’s most colorful figures, as an example.

“You gotta take the message and not the tone of the person’s voice,” Davis said. “The main guy who a lot of us had to get used to for that was Pat. But he gives good messages. And he said this thing one time, he was like, if I yell, ‘I love you!’ you not gonna get mad, you know what I’m saying? So listen to the message and not the tone.”


Four days between games feels like a bonafide vacation for the Lakers, who have been grinding along since the season began. Their hope is that by Friday night against the Detroit Pistons, three key players – LeBron James, Dennis Schröder and Thomas Bryant – will be available to play.

Of the three, James might be the most still in doubt. He participated in the non-contact portions of Wednesday’s practice, still healing from a left adductor strain and left foot soreness. He’s missed two straight games, the last of which Ham described as precautionary. In the parts of practice that James did participate in, Ham said the four-time league MVP looked good.

Schröder and Bryant might make their season debuts on Friday after having thumb surgeries on back-to-back days just before the season began. Both practiced with G League affiliate South Bay earlier in the week, and they could give the Lakers needed depth at guard and in the frontcourt, respectively.

Davis described their Wednesday practice as “unbelievable.”

“They had a lot pick-and-rolls today where they made the right plays,” he added. “Obviously (Dennis) had some turnovers trying to make the right reads, get back into the swing of things. Thomas: energetic, physical. They both played really well today.”

That doesn’t mean everyone’s going to be 100% heading into Friday, however. Juan Toscano-Anderson was held out of practice, Ham said, and Max Christie entered the league’s COVID-19 protocols and wasn’t available either. He added that both Westbrook and Beverley were limited during certain parts of practice.

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