The Los Angeles Lakers are starting the NBA season strong. Many thought they would coast to begin the season after having 71 days between the Finals and their first game of the new year. The Lakers aren’t interested in that, as they have come out hungry, looking to repeat as champions.
Having the second-best record in the league, LA should be feeling good about where they are at. That shouldn’t be the case, as they just did something for the first time since 1991 against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Lakers need overtime to beat the Thunder
Wednesday night’s action had the Los Angeles Lakers going up against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The team didn’t have Anthony Davis available, as he was out with an Achilles injury. The game didn’t start well for LA, being down by as many as 20 at one point. However, never count out the King and his men.
The Lakers clawed their way back into the game, thanks to a big night by LeBron James. His game-tying 3-pointer late in the fourth helped force overtime. With the lead in OT, James deflects an inbound pass, forcing the clock to run out. Oklahoma City missed their shot attempt, giving the Lakers the win. The King dropped 25 points along with six rebounds, seven assists, and two steals.
Montrezl Harrell was the second-leading scorer in that game, dropping 20. Kyle Kuzma also chipped in with 15 points. LA struggled to hit their 3-pointers, shooting 28.6% for the night. They turned the ball over 17 times, leading to 13 points off turnovers for the Thunder. Despite the negatives, James and the Lakers escaped with a victory.
Getting a win is good, even if it is in overtime. There has been a recent trend for the Lakers that should be a cause of concern for the team.
The Los Angeles Lakers do something for the first time since 1991
Wednesday night’s game against the Thunder isn’t the first time the Los Angeles Lakers needed overtime to win. Their previous two games against the Thunder and Detroit Pistons needed overtime also. That makes it three straight games the Lakers had to play after regulation.
That is the first time since the 1991-92 season that LA played in three straight overtime games. Luckily for the 2021 Lakers, they won all three games. People might not see this as a big deal, but the Lakers do. Kyle Kuzma isn’t a fan of playing three consecutive OT games.
“That’s something we have to address, obviously. Three straight overtimes, no matter if it’s a win or whatever, is kind of unacceptable by our standards,” Kuzma said per Spectrum Sportsnet.
It’s a positive sign that the Los Angeles Lakers aren’t satisfied with playing in overtime. Their past three opponents were tough, but LA can’t afford to go into OT. It might be time for the Lakers to begin giving their key players a little bit of rest.
Could the Lakers be getting tired?
This NBA season is already grueling because of the strict COVID-19 protocols. Add in that the Lakers only received 71 days off from the end of last season. It is possible that the team is becoming fatigued, which could explain why they are in so many overtime games.
If anyone on the should be tired, it should be LeBron James. James has played 130 minutes in the past three games, per CBS Sports. He remarkably hasn’t missed a game this season. The 130 minutes he’s played is the most in a three-game stretch of his Laker career. He might not say he’s tired, but James is definitely fatigued.
The Lakers could take the next couple of games to rest their players. It would be well-needed rest given their circumstances. The NBA season is a marathon, not a sprint, so Vogel might have to make an executive decision and sit a few of his players out so that they can recover.
It’s been 20 years since the Los Angeles Lakers played in three straight overtime games. Even though they won all of them, it should be a concerning sign for the team. They need to either refocus or get some rest before they play the Memphis Grizzlies on Feb 12. Another overtime game wouldn’t be good physically, and Lebron James won’t be happy either.