Lakers Notes: Game 4, Hachimura, Wood, LeBron

Despite a 3-0 deficit, the Lakers‘ confidence hasn’t waned going into tonight’s Game 4, writes Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. L.A. has dropped its last 11 games to Denver, including seven straight in the playoffs, but the players aren’t convinced that the series is over.

“We have the guys here, we have the talent, for sure. You know, I don’t think anybody can beat us, you know, just the talent-wise,” Rui Hachimura said Friday. “… In my opinion, yes, we have the talent here, we have the guys that can beat any team in this league. And I talked to somebody about it too, but just this first round against Denver, it’s a conference final, it’s the exactly last thing. But even that, it’s the same story. We always up 20 and then we just come back and lose. So we just gotta put everything together and tomorrow we’ll see. We’re gonna play the same way and just gotta continue.”

Coach Darvin Ham isn’t planning any changes to his starting lineup, saying he wants to give his current unit a chance to respond to the challenge that the Nuggets present, Woike adds. Ham, whose job may be in jeopardy if the Lakers can’t rally, described the team as disappointed by its performance so far.

“Guys are irritated, frustrated, fed up, ready to make a change in terms of not continuously going down this road,” Ham said. “And the overall theme was just our mindset. Belabor the problems, what’s gone on up to this point or shift our focus to how do we stay alive? And looking at the film, had a really good first quarter. How can we sustain that type of performance during the duration of the game?”

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • Christian Wood has been medically cleared for tonight’s game, according to Khobi Price of The Orange County Register. The backup big man underwent surgery in March after missing about a month before that due to swelling in his left knee. Wood appeared in 50 games and averaged 6.9 points and 5.1 rebounds per night in the first season of a two-year contract he signed last summer.
  • There was a sharp contrast after Game 3 as Nikola Jokic talked about the long process of building a competitive team and LeBron James questioned what some of his teammates were thinking during the game, notes Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. The stability in Denver may lead to a second straight title, Shelburne adds, while the discord in Los Angeles will likely result in another summer of change.
  • Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report examines what the Lakers might look like if James turns down his $51.4MM player option for next season and signs elsewhere in free agency. If D’Angelo Russell, Jaxson Hayes, Cam Reddish and Wood also opt out and New Orleans takes L.A.’s first-round pick this year, the team would have about $32MM in cap space to work with. Pincus suggests that if Russell picks up his option, he could be part of a trade package to obtain a reliable scorer such as Trae Young or Donovan Mitchell.
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