Hi this is Tania Ganguli, Lakers beat writer for the Los Angeles Times, here with your Lakers newsletter.
I am also here with a reminder that, while it’s still 80 degrees in Los Angeles, many other parts of the country have weather that acknowledges the calendar. Here in Dallas, where the Lakers and I are, it won’t crack 60 degrees today.
This is the Lakers’ first road trip of the season. They’ll play the Mavericks and Spurs in Texas — two teams that are 3-1 right now, just like the Lakers — before heading north to face the Chicago Bulls. Chicago is 1-4. My prediction after opening night was that the Lakers would split their games in Texas and beat the Bulls for a 2-1 trip overall.
The Lakers are on a three-game winning streak, though, and will have Kyle Kuzma for most, if not all, of this trip. An undefeated road trip isn’t out of the question.
The early part of the Lakers’ schedule is filled with teams rebuilding in some way or another — this month they’ll also face the Oklahoma City Thunder, Washington Wizards, Sacramento Kings, Atlanta Hawks and New Orleans Pelicans. The heavy hitters await them in December, starting with a Denver-Utah-Portland road trip. That month they’ll also play the Milwaukee Bucks and see the Clippers again.
Of course, a lot could change as teams get into the meat of their schedule. For the Lakers, already something has emerged that requires monitoring.
How worried should we be about Anthony Davis’ shoulder?
Davis would tell you that you should not worry at all about his shoulder.
The fact is, though, he played through a great deal of pain on Tuesday, the night he became the sixth player in Lakers history to have 40 points and 20 rebounds in a game. He admitted to the pain after the game, and even shared when the injury occurred. It was during Sunday’s game against the Charlotte Hornets, when he attempted a dunk and jammed up his right shoulder.
To Davis, the subject of injuries is a sensitive one.
“It was just part of the game,” Davis said. “Obviously, I have a list of them and I just try to play, fight through them and do what I’ve got to do to help the team. I’m here to be one of the leaders of the team and it’s tough for me to do that on the sideline. So I’d rather just see how I feel, go play and try leading that way.”
In his time in New Orleans before he was traded to the Lakers, Davis missed several games or parts of games with injuries. They were mostly small issues, but they earned him a reputation for being injury prone. That’s a label that annoys many athletes, and Davis is so far showing that he wants to shed it here in Los Angeles.
In many ways it will be up to Lakers coach Frank Vogel and the team’s medical staff to make sure they aren’t putting Davis in a position in which he could re-aggravate his injury. They are, after all, depending on Davis staying healthy for the next seven months or so. Should he choose to stay in Los Angeles after this season, his long-term health could be critical to the franchise’s long-term health, too.
Here’s what else happened since last we spoke …
- Another injury to watch is that of Rajon Rondo. Rondo has not played yet because of what the Lakers are calling a mild calf strain. He missed the opener, and then spoke to reporters the day before their second game against the Jazz. At the time it seemed likely that Rondo would play soon, but a week later he’s still out, and the Lakers have cut back on the work they were having him do. They still say they are monitoring the injury day by day.
- The Lakers were extremely proud of their defensive effort Tuesday against the Utah Jazz, whom they beat 95-86. It was their home opener, which meant someone had to do the pregame greeting for the fans. Danny Green took the microphone and introduced himself as the new guy.
- Remember Sasha Vujacic? Of course you do. Well, he’s got a wine business.
- The Hornets made life tough for the Lakers, who appeared to have overlooked their opponent during the first half Sunday. Vogel took the unique step of changing his lineup at halftime, and started the third quarter with Alex Caruso at point and Davis at center. It worked.
- That was also a game in which we really saw what it looks like when Davis shows his full range of skill and LeBron James is happy to defer to him. He only had six points in the first three quarters, but had eight assists in the first quarter alone. Then James took over in the fourth for 14 points as the Lakers pulled away.
- The Dwight Howard Experiment is going fantastically well for the Lakers and for Howard. He is having so much fun and fitting in perfectly. Our Bill Plaschke elaborates.
- Kuzma has been dying to get back onto the court. Watching the Lakers play, he’s felt like the skills he worked on during the summer will really help the team.
- Like everyone in his Brentwood neighborhood, James and his family were awakened at 1:30 a.m. on Monday because of the threatening Getty fire. The night was chaotic for James, and he was left with an admiration for the first responders fighting the fires. To show his appreciation, he sent the Mariscos Jaliscos taco truck to their base camp on Tuesday.
- Alex Caruso had some effective minutes for the Lakers against the Jazz and Hornets, which led to growing support for his minutes to increase. He had only played in the second half in those games, and said he thought he’d made a case for early minutes. Point guard and center are the two positions where there’s been some discussion about change for the Lakers and I took a detailed look into both positions. It left me wondering why is everyone forgetting about Quinn Cook?
- Davis joined George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal as the only Lakers to have 40 points and 20 rebounds in a game. He did it in three quarters and with a sore shoulder.
- Wednesday marked the annual James family costume party, and his teammates didn’t disappoint.
That’s all for now. See you next week. And sign up for this newsletter by clicking here!