After the Lakers’ starting five hear their names called, the team gathers in a semicircle, an opening for star big man Anthony Davis to jump into and bring the team together before the game.
But with Davis out recovering from injuries Monday night, it was Jared Dudley’s leap that served as the ritual’s grand finale.
It’s a reminder of where the Lakers are — down a couple of their best players, searching everywhere for a replacement to handle the responsibilities Davis and point guard Dennis Schroder normally handle.
And despite another instance in which coach Frank Vogel insisted his team had enough “firepower” to win, the Lakers made more than enough mistakes to lose.
With a flurry of turnovers and an offense that quickly reverted to problematic form following a promising start, the Lakers lost in overtime, 127-124, against a 10-17 Washington Wizards team.
LeBron James scored 31 points with 13 assists and nine rebounds, but also had eight turnovers, missed eight of 10 3-pointers and made only one of three from the line.
The Lakers know Davis will be out through the All-Star break, and Schroder is in quarantine with the hope that he’ll be able to return Friday against Portland.
So, they continued to look for ways to get by.
Fighting a fatigue that Vogel acknowledged his team was suffering, the Lakers couldn’t sustain the energy they opened with against the Wizards.
“Guys are definitely excited that All-Star break is coming up. ...” Dudley said before the game. “… I would be lying if I didn’t say that guys are looking forward to that.”