The LA Lakers have gone from a clear-cut NBA title favorite to a team free-falling in the Western Conference playoff picture standings. LA”s recent skid has created plenty of doubt around the team’s chances toward a deep postseason run. That said, LA‘s impressive win on Monday over the Denver Nuggets featured a much-needed wake-up call in one critical regard.
Lakers’ continue downward spiral in the playoff picture
The Lakers have experienced many frustrating moments over the last couple of weeks.
Before Monday’s game against the Nuggets, LA dropped six out of their previous seven contests. Their stumbled pushed them into a three-way tie in the standings with the Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers.
LA’s skid has now made the play-in tournament for the final two playoff spots a feasible reality. Their downward trend has continued despite recently welcoming Anthony Davis and LeBron James back to the fold.
However, the win over Denver shined a light on a massive mistake the Lakers have made this season.
The Lakers just received a much-needed wake-up call that could save their season
The Lakers entered Monday’s contest against the Denver Nuggets spiraling south, but that skid came to a halt.
With James sitting out due to a sore ankle, LA responded with a performance that the organization and fan base has been itching to see in the last couple of weeks. The outing saw the Lakers battle out a much-needed home win to snap a three-game slid.
More importantly, it was underlined by the storyline around center Marc Gasol’s lack of playing time since Andre Drummond’s arrival. In April alone, he played in only seven games averaging 18.0 minutes.
With the latter in foul trouble throughout Monday’s game, Gasol made the most of his 17 minutes on the floor with 10 points, seven rebounds, two assists, and a +17 plus/minus.
The 36-year-old changed the flow of the game behind his ball movement and scoring while putting forth an admirable defensive job against MVP frontrunner Nikola Jokic.
Despite the internal frustration with the fluctuating playing time this season, Gasol remained a consummate professional when speaking to the media after the game.
“We have to start thinking more as a team rather than individual guys,” Gasol said via Spectrum Sportsnet. “You play 0 or 20 minutes, the team’s success is everyone’s success.”
Gasol’s presence in the contest showed his value to the team, given his unique skillset. He may not be the player he once was, but he can provide some high-impact play in a steady role.
Eyeing strong push toward the playoffs
The Lakers put together an impressive outing against the Nuggets but hold a tough remaining regular-season schedule ahead.
LA still has to face playoff teams such as the LA Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns, and New York Knicks. There are also lingering questions around LeBron James’ health as he’s dealing with a sore right ankle.
The Lakers are moving cautiously with the situation, but James will need to play a pivotal role. Meanwhile, Monday’s contest was a wake-up call for head coach Frank Vogel to get Gasol a consistent spot in the rotation.
Drummond has shown flashes of what he can provide through his rebounding and a paint presence, but he continues to struggle with foul trouble and scoring at the rim.
The bulk of those issues stem from him finding comfort in the offense and learning how to play alongside Davis and James. However, the Lakers know what they have with Gasol, who has performed well in any role.
The pathway ahead presents plenty of challenges, but LA certainly holds the pieces to contend for another NBA title.