Lakers Notes: Rotation, McGee, LeBron, Rondo

The Lakers have wrapped up the top seed in the West, but they haven’t looked like the team they were before the break, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Saturday’s loss to the Pacers dropped L.A. to 2-4 in Orlando, and the problems go beyond a mediocre record.

Avery Bradley opted out of the restart, leaving a huge hole in the perimeter defense, and Rajon Rondo was lost to thumb surgery. Newcomers J.R. Smith and Dion Waiters were both left on the bench against Indiana, while Danny Green sat out the game with a sore hip. That meant Alex Caruso started, with Jared Dudley, Quinn Cook and rookie Talen Horton-Tucker seeing back-up minutes.

“This is a different situation than any situation I’ve been in, so it’s kind of hard to say, ‘OK, playoffs are right around the corner, this is where we’re gonna be.’ We’re literally in a bubble. It’s kind of hard to explain,” LeBron James said after the game. “Obviously you want to be playing great basketball going into the playoffs. It’s exactly what you should be doing and what you want to do.”

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • Center JaVale McGee was back on the court Saturday after being benched in Thursday’s loss, but he turned in another sub-par performance with five points and four rebounds in 13 minutes, observes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. McGee hasn’t been the same since the hiatus, and the starting lineup hasn’t been effective in the five games he has played in Orlando. “That lineup has struggled, but I don’t feel like JaVale has been off his game,” said coach Frank Vogel. “In fact, when we had our intrasquad scrimmages before scrimmages against other teams, we were keeping stats on all our scrimmages and he was shooting 85 percent in those games. So I’m not worried about his play at all.”
  • James was one of the first players to speak out against the idea of playing in empty arenas when the idea was being considered in March, but he’s adapting to the atmosphere at Walt Disney World, notes Mark Medina of USA Today. James calls it a “very weird dynamic” and said he hasn’t played without fans since before high school. “I definitely love playing in front of the fans. The fans are what make the game,” he said. “Without the fans, I wouldn’t be who I am today. To all the fans out there that come watch me play, I miss you guys and hopefully someday I can get back to that interaction.”
  • The Lakers are hopeful that Rondo can rejoin the team sometime in the first round of the playoffs, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).
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14 thoughts on “Lakers Notes: Rotation, McGee, LeBron, Rondo

    • harden-westbrook-mvps

      I’ll be much happier facing the Lakers in the 2nd round rather than the Clippers, who should be considered overall favorites.

  1. Sillivan

    If I were a laker, I would spend 40 million to buy LaMelo from Wolves new owner

    Actually the best fit for LaMelo is Warriors shooting coach
    LaMelo will be a superstar as long as Warriors give him 32 minutes a game

    Curry and Klay can also teach him how to shoot
    He would have 3 assists a game for the Knicks and 10 assists for Warriors a game

  2. harden-westbrook-mvps

    They’re hopeful that whichever two teams finish 8th and 9th will wear each other out in the play-in series to determine which one the Lakers will face.

    • x%sure

      The race for ninth (coughcough) would be pretty much the same as the race for eighth, in both conferences.

      Play-in just means playoff. Everyone plays to get in.
      There’s going to be a race to qualify, no matter what the number is. Right now it’s 18 of 30.

      JVG sounded foolish today in liking it.

    • KnickerbockerAl

      Mistake bro. Right now it seems. Those two teams will be most ready. With no home court advantage. Blazers will be finely tuned for run at Lakers. I wouldn’t have said this before Bubble. Lakers better be ready and healthy. Without Bradley n Rondo. Blazers definitely looking like they can do this. Man I can’t wait for this series. It’s gonna be fun. You should be most happy. Blazers instead of Lakers works in Rockets favor.

  3. KnickerbockerAl

    Lakers better be healthy and ready for Blazers. They are playing and look in playoff shape. No hm court advantage helps all lower seeds. I think 2nd rd will be very competitive because. Lakers Blazers should go 7.

    • Curtisrowe

      Blazers with Nurkic are a different team. They could definitely push the Lakers.

      • wagner13

        Portland matches up pretty well with the Lakers. They have Nurkic and Collins to take care of James and Davis in the post, while Lillard and McCollum can take advantage of LA’s lack of wing defense without Bradley

        • KnickerbockerAl

          I agree Lakers backcourt will be tested. They will have to use all their guards lol n some. This is looking like a fun series. Never been a Laker fan. I respect their history. This shows it’s not just about stars. Teams win championships. Losing two guards may not seem bad. But against JC n Dame. Your best D guards. Man it’s going to show.

  4. 2bbige

    The Lakers have nothing to play for after clinching #1 seed. Stay healthy & experiment with player combos. Seen combos in bubble that were never in “pre bubble”. Love the Laker naysayers…. wait until the games count.

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