The Los Angeles Lakers are looking to close out their difficult road trip with a win against the Charlotte Hornets. The Charlotte Hornets are one of the worst teams in the NBA with a 10-37 record. The Lakers are heading into this game on a two game winning streak against the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks. The Lakers are slowly stacking wins and although they’re the heavy favorites against a bad Hornets team, The Lakers can’t play down to their competition. The Lakers will be without their best perimeter defender in Jarred Vanderbilt as he went down against the Boston Celtics and is rumored to have season-ending surgery. The Lakers have to remain focused despite trade rumors from nearly every player on the Lakers has been involved in, including LeBron James. With that said, here are five keys to success for the Lakers to close out their road trip in the winning column, before the February 8th, NBA trade deadline.
1. Play Through Your Two Stars
LeBron James and Anthony Davis will be crucial to put the Charlotte Hornets away early. Anthony Davis against the Knicks was a shell of himself offensively only scoring 12 points on 4-12 shooting. Anthony Davis is still dealing with nagging injuries and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Lakers decide to rest him on the final game of their road trip in Charlotte. LeBron James will obviously be a critical part in beating the Hornets as after the win against the New York Knicks, James said “We finish it off in Charlotte and we have to be professional and understanding that at the end of the day that is an NBA team and if we don’t come to play they will beat us.”
2. Don’t Play Down To Your Competition
The Charlotte Hornets are a team that has been rebuilding for years and are used to losing. The Hornets are a fun but young team who are bound to make mistakes as they’re ranked 28th in the NBA for field goal percentage. Although the Lakers play drop coverage, this may be a team that defensive scheme will work against. If the Lakers lock in and allow the Hornets to beat themselves, The Lakers will closeout the road trip 5-3.
3. Make Proper Subs And Adjustments
The elephant in the room for the Los Angeles Lakers is head coach Darvin Ham. Coach Ham is on the hot seat as this Lakers team has severely underperformed due to bad lineups and game management. The Lakers front office have come to support Coach Ham despite his struggles, but underperforming for the Los Angeles Lakers will leave no stone unturned. Coach Ham from recent reports, has lost the majority of the Lakers locker room and each loss speaks volumes to that. In Darvin Ham’s credit, he has coached two very impressive back to back games resulting in wins against two of the hottest teams in the NBA. The win against the Boston Celtics came without LeBron James and Anthony Davis playing. In the end, if Darvin Ham is able to beat the teams he’s supposed to and compete with the top teams in the NBA, his job will be safe not only for this year but next year as well.