With star player LeBron James out for at least the next two weeks with a right foot injury, Los Angeles Lakers coach Darvin Ham is adjusting quickly as his team pursues a playoff spot.
Fortunately for the Lakers, center Anthony Davis will return to the lineup on Friday against the Minnesota Timberwolves to kick off a five-game homestand.
On Wednesday, the undermanned Lakers prevailed 123-117 over the Thunder in Oklahoma City, their fifth victory in their last seven contests.
Davis didn’t play against the Thunder because Davis didn’t want to miss the second game of a back-to-back. The right foot injury forced the eight-time All-Star to miss 20 games earlier this season.
Additionally, the Lakers have been without point guard D’Angelo Russell, who is likely to miss his fourth consecutive game due to a right ankle injury.
The Lakers prevailed over the Thunder through collective effort despite the absence of three key players. Dennis Schroder had 26 points, Troy Brown Jr. had 19, which was his best performance of the season, and Austin Reaves also had 19.
Ham stated that in the absence of James, multiple players will need to continue to step up.
In the victory over Oklahoma City, Reaves made 8 of 9 free throws and 5 of 5 field goals. By scoring at least 17 points in three of his last four games, the second-year professional has quickly adjusted to playing a bigger role.
The Lakers are vying with a number of teams for a spot in the play-in tournament, including Minnesota, which is currently ranked No. 11 in the Western Conference. Position 8 The teams that finished seventh through tenth in each conference play for the Nos in the tournament. 7 and 8 playoff seeds, respectively.
With a road victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday, the Wolves ended a three-game losing streak. Minnesota outscored the Clippers 60-38 in the paint thanks to six double-digit scoring performances from its players.
In the victory, Jaden McDaniels scored 20 points and has averaged 15.4 points in his last five games. The forward, who is in his third year, also played great defense against Clippers stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
Minnesota has won its last two games against the Lakers, including a 111-102 victory on Oct. 28. Anthony Edwards is averaging 24.6 points on 45.8% shooting.