Newsletter: Back at .500, be grateful Lakers survived the trip

LeBron James looks to drive against Malcolm Brogdon.
Lakers forward LeBron James looks to drive against Indiana’s Malcolm Brogdon on Wednesday night.
(Darron Cummings / Associated Press)

Why hello strangers, it’s Dan Woike, back for the Los Angeles Times and the Lakers’ newsletter, the first time in weeks I’ve sat behind a keyboard.

You might remember, of course, that this last month I’ve been spending my free time at the changing table, dealing with a newborn with a metabolism that’s easier to get through than the Lakers’ defense.

Anyways, everyone is healthy. And when we’re not tired, we’re happy.

Back to the basketball. …

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Whew, that was close

A whistle, 15 feet and a little bit of pressure — those were the three things keeping the Lakers from a 1-4 road trip. The number seems disastrous, the kind of results where you ask big questions about the state of things and uncover some uncomfortable answers.

But the whistle didn’t blow. The Pacers didn’t get the free throw, and the Lakers finished the trip 2-3 with slivers of momentum and hope.

Early Thursday morning, the NBA announced that its officials failed to correctly call a foul on Avery Bradley during Chris Duarte’s miracle of a game-tying three-point attempt in the final seconds Wednesday at Indianapolis. Had that whistle been blown and had Duarte hit the free throw, the feeling would be totally different as the Lakers head back to Staples Center or whatever it’s called now.

In an 82-game season, the difference between 2-3 and 1-4 is almost nothing — 1.2% of a team’s record. In a 24-hour sense, though, the Lakers’ win in Indiana was a reminder that there are reasons to still celebrate the Lakers.

There’s James with his 39 points, there were pockets of defensive intensity with execution to match, and some creativity with how the Lakers approached defensive schemes. With Anthony Davis returning from illness — and Austin Reaves coming back from a hamstring soon — the Lakers will upgrade their talent and options.

The problems are still easier to find if you’re looking for them — inconsistencies abound. But with Thanksgiving still sticking to the ribs, maybe a bit of gratefulness is in order.


After all, if that whistle had been blown … there would be no celebrations, no swagger, no chance to start streaking.


The Lakers are back in Los Angeles to host the Sacramento Kings, who just fired Luke Walton, on Friday. They’ll play twice in the next five days, with a meeting against the Detroit Pistons in between. Then after games with the Clippers and the Boston Celtics, they’ll go to Memphis and Oklahoma City before coming back to play Orlando.

After that, it’s on to Dallas, Minnesota and Chicago.

It’s conceivable that the Lakers could put together a winning streak or two during that stretch — something coach Frank Vogel spoke to his team about. Stringing together some wins would help in the standings, obviously, but for a team devoid of continuity and, frankly, an identity, some wins would build a little confidence and a desperately needed foundation.

Song of the Week

Toad the Wet Sprocket – “Something’s Always Wrong

With the Lakers, it’s either the defense or an illness or a suspension or a thumb or an ankle or a hamstring. Here at my house, it’s either a diaper or a dirty dish or a pile of toys or some escalating cries.

Something is always wrong — how you deal with it is what matters. Toad the Wet Sprocket is wonderful.

Since we last spoke ...


Until next time...

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