Lakers carry positive outlook into matchup with Thunder

Field Level Media

November 30, 2023 at 8:57 am.

Los Angeles Lakers coach Darvin Ham wasn’t about to change his approach after his team took a 44-point loss on Monday.

The Lakers passed their first test since that pounding in Philadelphia, but the degree of difficulty gets kicked up when Los Angeles visits the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday.

After the Lakers’ 138-94 loss to the 76ers on Monday, Ham chose to keep things positive.

“To me, insults very rarely get you improvement,” Ham said. “You try to address the things that you need to get better at but more so focus on the positives and let guys know that it’s OK to fail.

“You don’t want to remain a failure. But if you fail after you’ve tried and you learn things after the first attempt, that will hopefully make you successful in your next attempt.”

Los Angeles rebounded by demolishing the host Detroit Pistons 133-107 on Wednesday night in the first night of the back-to-back set.

D’Angelo Russell scored 35 in the win, his highest total since Feb. 24, 2022.

Ham said after the victory that he decided on the glass-half-full approach based on his experience as a player.

“Just focused on being solution-based,” Ham said. “I just never believed in quote-unquote calling guys out or insulting guys or dumping on guys negatively.”

The Lakers will hope to ride the momentum from the win into the Thursday matchup, but they are just 1-2 on the second night of back-to-backs this season.

The game in Oklahoma City will conclude a four-game road trip for the Lakers. After dropping their first five road games of the season, they are 4-1 away from Los Angeles since.

The Thunder, after winning six consecutive games, have dropped back-to-back games by a total of seven points.

In the latest contest, Oklahoma City fell 106-103 to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday in Minneapolis.

Rookie Chet Holmgren struggled in the defeat, going 6 of 20 from the floor after entering the game shooting 56.4 percent from the floor.

“We have to get better as a team and practice and (use) the film room and continue to get better,” Holmgren said. “We can’t just brush it off because then we can’t learn lessons from it.”

Like Ham, Thunder coach Mark Daigneault chose to look at the positive side after dropping the past two, most notably the way his team played late in both games.

“It’s a huge skill with how many close games there are,” Daigneault said. “When you have a lead, it’s critical in closing the game out and when you’re (coming) from behind, it’s hard to win when you’re down by five with less than a minute to go, but we want to give ourselves every chance, and if we do that every single time we’re in that situation, we’ll crack through.”

Lakers center Jaxson Hayes could miss the Oklahoma City game after leaving the Wednesday win in the first half with a sore left elbow. Ham said Hayes would be evaluated ahead of the Thursday game.

The contest will be the first of four meetings between the teams this season. The Lakers won two of three last season and have won 10 of the past 14 matchups with the Thunder.

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