‘We want these difficult occasions’

As if the Los Angeles Lakers weren’t already struggling sufficient, down two starters heading into Wednesday’s recreation in opposition to the Utah Jazz, a blowout 114-89 loss solely highlighted the rut the defending champions are in.

With Anthony Davis (proper leg) and Dennis Schroder (well being and security protocols) sidelined, the Jazz jumped all around the Lakers. They led as many as 29 factors in handing L.A. its fourth loss in a row and fifth in its previous six video games since Davis aggravated his tendinosis and suffered a calf pressure per week and a half in the past.

Utah has received 15 straight at residence.

“They’re taking part in like the perfect group within the league proper now,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel stated of Utah, which shot 22-for-48 from Three within the rout.

And the Lakers, nonetheless third within the Western Convention standings at 22-11, aren’t taking part in wherever close to in addition to their report would counsel.

L.A. saved tempo with Utah within the first quarter at Vivint Area, trailing 24-23 after one, earlier than the Jazz erupted within the second and third quarters, outscoring the Lakers 66-41 to interrupt the sport open.

Markieff Morris, who obtained the beginning within the frontcourt in opposition to Utah’s Rudy Gobert with Davis out, stated that the Lakers’ present struggles are a actuality verify the group wanted.

“[I] assume early on we received with expertise so much and we obtained a number of function gamers that know their roles. Now with these guys out — with AD out, particularly — we’d like guys to do various things,” Morris stated after ending with season highs in factors (12) and rebounds (9). “That is new for all of us. However we’d like it. If you happen to ask me, we’d like it. Since you no means know with accidents. You no means know within the playoffs. You no means know. We want these difficult occasions to essentially discover who we actually are.”

The four-game dropping streak matches the longest the Lakers have had up to now two seasons, however Morris stated it’s exhausting to match this season’s squad to final yr’s due to the roster turnover and challenges that include the coronavirus-compacted schedule.

“That is probably the most basketball that I’ve ever performed in my life — this season and final season mixed,” he stated. “It is an unbelievable quantity of basketball that all of us are taking part in. Mentally it will get draining. Particularly while you lose.”

The Lakers have 4 extra video games earlier than the All-Star break, with the following three of these video games — residence in opposition to Portland, Golden State and Phoenix — all coming in opposition to groups with successful information.

“It isn’t presupposed to click on straight away,” Morris stated. “It is presupposed to take time. It is presupposed to problem us. It is presupposed to really feel like our again is in opposition to the wall. And all people wants that. It would deliver out your true self while you obtained to combat when your again is in opposition to the wall while you lose a pair video games. It would deliver out your true self.”

LeBron James, whose groups are 1-for-Three in repeat title bids thus far in his profession, remained pragmatic, not utilizing L.A.’s lacking gamers as an excuse, however leveling with the truth that the season will not run off the rails due to February struggles.

“It is a powerful stretch for us,” James stated after scoring 19 factors in 28 minutes. ” this may not outline who we shall be for the remainder of the season and for the lengthy haul. That is for certain.”

When requested if the losses may assist L.A.’s overhauled locker room get to be taught each other, he concurred.

“At all times the perfect instructor in life is expertise,” James stated. “, for us to be going via this proper now, I feel it may profit our group tremendously.”

As with every group harboring back-to-back championship aspirations, Morris saved one eye on the longer term when assessing Wednesday’s outcome.

“We see the Jazz, we all know they beat our ass tonight,” he stated. “However within the playoffs it is a completely different story.”

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