In no world should 13th place feel this good. Yet inside the Lakers’ practice facility on Saturday, there was an understandable sense of optimism from the Western Conference’s third-worst team.
While the Lakers have stumbled and stalled throughout the first half of the season, very few teams have found a consistent stride.
“We like the position we’re in,” Austin Reaves said Saturday. “We’re never content with where we’re at because you want to win every game, but that was really the message at the end of practice. Let’s go make a run and get a good spot.”
The Lakers have a chance to build some momentum, albeit against some good teams, with six of their next seven games at home. More importantly, things seem to be improving for the injured Lakers, a group including Reaves and Lonnie Walker IV, and headlined by Anthony Davis.
“Lonnie is trending in the right direction, Austin is trending in the right direction, AD looked really good. He was out on the floor a little bit today,” coach Darvin Ham said. “So we’re right on course of what we want to get done in terms of getting them back in the lineup.”
It won’t be Sunday when the Lakers host Philadelphia and it almost certainly won’t happen Monday when they have the Rockets in the second game on back-to-back nights. But if the Lakers can continue to tread water, the middle pack of the conference is still so tight they’ll be in decent enough position.
By the time the Lakers left practice on Saturday, they were only two games out of the No. 6 spot in the conference. They were one game out of the play-in tournament, and with upcoming dates against Portland, Sacramento and the Clippers, there are real chances to make a move.
“If we can string a couple wins together — and I think we’ve been playing good basketball, even with some of the Ls that we’ve had,” LeBron James said. “As of late, over the last couple months. I feel like if we can continue to play the game like we’ve been playing it and then we get healthy, it will put us in a good position to see what the standings hold.”
The getting healthy part isn’t as complicated as it sounded a week ago.
Ham said Davis was able to do “minimal half-court” workouts as he continues to ramp up from a trio of foot injuries.
“Again, he’s moving well. He’s feeling well. And we’re excited,” Ham said. “He’s right where he should be according to the plan that was put down.”
Reaves has been doing individual on-court work with assistant Phil Handy as he nears a return.
“Multiple people I’ve talked to say hamstrings are tricky — it’s getting it to 100%,” Reaves said. “I want to play every game obviously. Sitting out isn’t fun. I was going absolutely nuts in the back of the Dallas game. But, it…
Read More: Lakers stay optimistic as Anthony Davis and other injured players work toward 2023-01-15 01:01:00