Editor’s Note: This is the Monday, October 4 edition of journalist Kyle Goon’s Purple & Bold Lakers newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.
Almost a month after the end of a brutal 2020-21 season for the Lakers, Anthony Davis had yet to pick up a basketball.
He was injured as a result of a groin injury that he had valiantly tried to overcome, but clearly couldn’t in the final elimination of Game 6 of their first playoff series. turn against Phoenix. But besides, he told those around him in late June, he was just plain exhausted. The consecutive nature of the seasons had crushed him, body and mind, and even made it difficult to think about the game for a while after the offseason started.
That was the reality of the 2020-21 season for the Lakers: no sooner had they won the title than they found themselves trying to defend it. Although they somewhat recognized it at the time, now that the 2021-22 season started with an enthusiasm that coaches and players praised during the first week of camp, more is being learned about this. previous campaign tortured.
A person close to Davis told the Southern California News Group that Davis was one of the Lakers who just needed a break from the title race and the following season that felt more like two years in one. Davis was hardly alone: Coach Frank Vogel admitted on Sunday that last year’s Lakers never really rocked what grieved them – which now stands out that they actually had a full offseason to recover.
“It’s not that ‘I can’t believe we’re already starting training camp’ above us (now),” Vogel said. “It was real and it has been with us throughout the year.”
While Sunday’s preseason game didn’t have significant meaning for basketball, it did give the Lakers a feeling of normalcy being restored. Twice as many fans (16,000) were able to pack the Staples Center for the preseason tilt as they did for Game 6 of the playoffs, and for many Lakers, that was the most important thing.
They applauded like Rajon Rondo – who was somewhat of an outcast in March 2020 before playing a key role in the title team – checked in the middle of the first half. They sang when Dwight Howard got a free throw which was then taken out to him, traded for an ejection. Before the Lakers faded during a stretch worn by G League players, the crowd hooted in hopes the game could actually come closer.
“It was great just to be out there, back here in LA and play,” said Howard, who has trumpeted loudly that he expects a parade at the end of the year for compensate for the one the Lakers could not have in 2020 “I had so much energy, I think that’s why I made a mistake. ”
It is customary for champions to have a year to profit from their loot. I wrote in this space that the Lakers never quite got this, and in fact, this race’s toll has been made worse by the short timeframe and a season hemmed in by COVID-19 protocols.
Now, with a new roster and more energy providers like Russell Westbrook, the Lakers have painted just what a glaring difference that has been.
“Any little energy you had, it was all gone when we left (the bubble) so you know, to get back into the season with the quick start we had, the life of the party was a little, just like, it was just a little stale, ”LeBron James said last week. “You know, rightly so. The guys just haven’t had a chance to take a mental break. So, you know, you can definitely feel the energy change a lot more this season in the first two practices than in the last.
On Sunday there were fans on the court for the Lakers (the Clippers were finally able to accommodate more fans during their deeper playoff run). There were promotions for the fans, Laker girls, celebrities flocking. The energy shift in the building was palpable, which could help fuel the energy shift the team is experiencing behind closed doors.
The Lakers were just 21-15 at home last season, which was identical to their road record. As other arenas in the league filled up, James particularly expressed how much he misses having fans in his own building.
The best sign yet might be Davis’ change: after needing enough space for the game in late June, he’s now motivated enough to play the first preseason game while all the other big stars were away. seated. It was a matter of his own discretion, Vogel said: “The desire to want to be there is to be commended.”
Davis’s energy level is a huge boon to the Lakers, who could use that feeling of hunger. After the disappointment of last season, they seem ready to dive again.
– Kyle Goon
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