As if the Los Angeles Lakers weren’t struggling enough after losing two starters to Utah Jazz on Wednesday, a 114-89 defeat only showed the defending champions are in trouble.
After Anthony Davis (right leg) and Dennis Schroder (health and safety protocols) paused, jazz jumped over the Lakers. They led by 29 points, giving LA their fourth straight loss and fifth in their last six games since Davis’ tendinosis worsened and calf strain a week and a half ago.
Utah has won 15 straight home wins.
“They play like the best team in the league right now,” said Lakers coach Frank Vogel of Utah, who shot from 3 in defeat 22:48.
And the Lakers, who are still in third place in the Western Conference between 22 and 11, aren’t playing nearly as well as their record suggests.
LA kept pace with Utah in the first quarter at Vivint Arena, 24:23 at a time, before the jazz erupted in the second and third quarters, leaving the Lakers 66:41 to end the game.
Markieff Morris, who competed with Davis against Utah’s Rudy Gobert, said the Lakers’ current battles were a reality check for the team.
“”[I] Think early on, we have won a lot with talent and we have a lot of role players who know their roles. Now that these guys are out – especially out with AD – we need guys doing different things, “said Morris after hitting the season highs in points (12) and rebounds (9).” This is new to all of us. But we need it. If you ask me, we need it. Because you never know about injuries. You never know in the playoffs. You never know. We need these challenging times to really find who we really are. “
The four-game loss is the longest the Lakers have had in the last two seasons, but Morris said it was difficult to compare this season’s squad to last year’s as squad sales and challenges thickened with the coronavirus Go with the schedule.
“This is the most basketball I’ve ever played in my life – this season and last season combined,” he said. “It’s an incredible amount of basketball that we all play. It gets mentally drained. Especially when you lose.”
The Lakers have four games left before the All-Star break, with the next three of those games – home game against Portland, Golden State and Phoenix – all playing against teams with record profits.
“You don’t want it to click right away,” said Morris. “It’s supposed to take some time. It’s supposed to challenge us. It should feel like our back is against the wall. And everyone needs this. It will bring your real self out when you have to fight when your back is on. It should take some time.” the wall stands when you lose a few games. It will bring out your real self. “
LeBron James, whose teams stand 3-1 on repeated title bids in his career so far, remained pragmatic, not using the missing LA players as an excuse, but rather the fact that the season is not getting out of hand due to February fights.
“It’s a tough track for us,” said James after scoring 19 points in 28 minutes. “You know this is not going to define who we will be for the rest of the season and in the long run. That’s for sure.”
When asked if the losses could help LA’s outdated locker room get to know each other, he agreed.
“Always the best teacher in life is experience,” said James. “You know, if we go through this now, our team will benefit enormously.”
As with any team that has consecutive championship goals, Morris kept the future in mind when assessing the result on Wednesday.
“We see the jazz, we know they’ll hit our asses tonight,” he said. “But it’s a different story in the playoffs.”