The Los Angeles Lakers have begun their move up ESPN’s NBA Power Rankings.
The Los Angeles Lakers look like they are beginning to figure things out. Outside of perplexing losses to the Orlando Magic, who defeated the Lakers twice in an eight-day span, the team has been rolling.
Los Angeles hasn’t lost to anyone but the Magic since the first week of November, when they were defeated handily by the Toronto Raptors on Nov. 4th. Sundays have not been nice to the Lakers, as they have gotten blown out twice and barely beat the Atlanta Hawks with a blowout victory over the Miami Heat mixed in.
This past week ended on a low note with the loss to the Magic. However, before that, the Lakers picked up two more wins.
The first win of the week came in the final game of the LeBron James return tour. After blowing out the Heat, the Lakers won a hard-fought game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavaliers came to play, and had James not put the team on his back the final five or six minutes, they would have picked up a shocking upset victory.
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The second victory in the week wasn’t much prettier, but it was more dominant. The Lakers played an ugly game against the Utah Jazz but pulled out the victory, which is all that matters at the end of the day. Brandon Ingram was the hero in this game, scoring a game-high 24 points.
This week was also a step in the right direction for Lonzo Ball. Ball showed some more aggressiveness, which the team and fans alike have been waiting for. Ball was great, averaging 11 points, nine rebounds and 3.3 assists per game with three total steals and blocks combined. However, the jostling of Ball’s playing time continues to be something to keep an eye on.
Despite the loss to the Magic, the Lakers still had a strong week. As a result, they are beginning to vault up ESPN’s NBA Power Rankings.
This week, the Lakers have moved into the top-10 for the first time this season. Los Angeles comes in at the No. 10 spot. Here is what they had to say about the Lakers moving up.
The Lakers haven’t lost a game to a team other than the Orlando Magic in more than three weeks. This is an indignity the purple and gold can sustain, especially during a week in which they posted the league’s best defense. The Lakers now rank 10th overall for the season, with positive trends emerging. First, there’s the Tyson Chandler Effect: The Lakers are yielding a stingy 94.6 points per 100 possessions when he’s on the floor. Second, the Lakers are defending without fouling, ranking fourth in the league in opponent free throw attempt rate. — Arnovitz
Tyson Chandler has been a true difference maker for the Lakers. He has helped settle the defensive side of the ball, as the team is no longer relying on Kyle Kuzma and LeBron James to soak up all the backup center minutes behind JaVale McGee.
Being able to play defense without fouling is easier said than done. Not giving away free points at the foul line is a huge advantage for the Lakers, especially because of the struggles they have at the foul line themselves.
This upcoming week will be a busy one for the Lakers. They will play four games, starting with a visit to the Denver Nuggets. After that, they will begin a four-game homestand, which is tied for their longest of the season.
The Lakers will host the Indiana Pacers and Dallas Mavericks on a back-to-back set Thursday and Friday. After that, they welcome the Phoenix Suns for a Sunday matinee.
If Los Angeles can pick up a victory on the road against the Nuggets, they have a great chance at an undefeated week to beef up their record.
The Pacers are dealing with some injuries, as Victor Oladipo has been sidelined three games. The Lakers should then be able to handle the Mavericks and Suns, both of whom they have already defeated this season.
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