Lakers use path to playoffs in crowded Western Conference as motivation
By Bill Oram
EL SEGUNDO — Despite losing their past two games to teams with lesser records, the Lakers woke up on Tuesday to find they sat just one game out of the playoff picture.
Absurd, right? It’s much too early, with 61 games and five months left in the season, to be thinking playoffs. And thinking playoffs at all might be foolish for this young Lakers team.
But Larry Nance Jr. was not shy about saying that’s something the Lakers are using for motivation.
“That’s definitely something I keep track of for sure,” the third-year forward said. “That’s something that I would love for this team. I think everybody here would love that for this team and I think that’s very realistic the way things are shaping up right now.”
Nance said Coach Luke Walton talks to the team about reaching the playoffs and that it’s something players discuss within the walls of the locker room.
“It kind of keeps us refocused,” Nance said. “After a tough last game, it’s easy to be upset about it, but the second we’re like, ‘There’s a bigger plan here, we’ve got to refocus on the eight seed, we can still get it,’ kind of brings you down to earth and kind of refocuses you a little bit.”
The Lakers’ last two losses were to the Sacramento Kings and the Clippers, both teams beneath them in the standings (at the time). While the Lakers have shown an ability to play at a higher level for top teams, they have also been criticized by Walton for playing down to lesser opponents.
“Those kind of mid-energy games that … are ones that we absolutely have to win if we have our eyes set on the playoffs,” Nance said. “That eight seed is wide open right now. Obviously we have to steal a couple of these […]