Vibrations were sometimes off. And inconsistent vibes led to inconsistent gameplay.
It wasn’t basketball. It was other things that made the Lakers the team languishing in the bottom of the West with no momentum and less hope.
If this seems like a harsh criticism, please check the source.
This is how Patrick Beverley evaluated his former team on his podcast after the Lakers traded the veteran point guard to Orlando.
In the time since the Lakers rebuilt their roster, the vibes now? They have been mostly immaculate and the consistent energy has led to consistent play.
There’s an interesting question at the heart of the Lakers’ recent success: 8-3 in their last 11 games.
Are the Lakers such a happy team right now because they are winning or are they winning because they are such a happy team?
“It’s both,” Anthony Davis said Friday night after the Lakers beat Toronto.
Davis’ performance against the Raptors embodied that, the Lakers’ best player getting comfortable with the talent around him as Toronto charged up their defense in hopes of keeping him cornered.
“He understands what works, what doesn’t work, what is given and what is taken away. And from the way he’s been playing, the teams are pumped up,” manager Darvin Ham said on Saturday after watching a movie. “They’re on high alert, extra to him and his capabilities and what he’s been doing. So, they’re going to put one, two, three guys around them at all times.
“…But he is a smart basketball player. He didn’t get this far by accident. And the way that he’s able to navigate all of that and accept what the defense is doing and look at other options… And now, we have a plethora of other options that we can go to.”
Five Lakers scored at least 10 points while Davis had eight against Toronto. The only time this season he scored fewer points was against Cleveland, when he left the game minutes after kickoff with illness.
“Seven shots, five shots, no shots, 20 shots, as long as we win, I’m fine,” Davis said on his 30th birthday Saturday. “I’m happy. And those guys carried a lot of load last night.”
D’Angelo Russell’s performance, with 16 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter, highlighted the victory.
“The way we’ve tried to play all season, the pace of the game, it fits like a glove with the style of play that he has individually as a player,” Ham said of Russell.
Even LeBron James, who hasn’t been on the bench for the past two games as he tries to recover from his foot injury, expressed his support. tweeting, “Man, I love this team!” He also posted a package of highlights from Friday’s win on Instagram.
He has seen it. He can say it. He watches enough basketball,” Davis said of James. “We talked after the Memphis game, but he’s always… texting us, ‘Big win,’ things he sees. So he’s involved even though he’s getting healthy. But like I said, the energy is great, it’s very high. The boys are happy. The guys are happy to be winning.”
The improved atmosphere inside the locker room has been the result of a combination of factors: veterans leaving, young players coming in, a heightened sense of urgency and a clear collective goal of making the playoffs. The Lakers (33-34) are one game away from sixth place and a guaranteed playoff berth.
“Communication has been our best friend,” Davis said.
The ease with which the Lakers have been able to solve problems on the fly has been one of the most obvious changes, the distance between discussion and discussion having widened since the Lakers rebuilt their roster.
That’s why the team is in position to own a .500 record for the first time since a Jan. 25, 2022 win Sunday against the New York Knicks.
“We dug ourselves a hole. And we’re trying to get out of that,” Davis said. “It will be nice to get .500 and also get over it for the first time this year. So it was a tough start, but we’re turning things around.”