EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – A day before the Los Angeles Lakers‘ win over the Brooklyn Nets — just L.A.’s third victory in 13 games played this season — the team held a seminal film session on Saturday. It wasn’t so much what was seen, but what was said that made an impact, according to the Lakers’ leaders.
“We had conversations that a team that was 2-10 should have, you know?” Anthony Davis said Wednesday after practice. “About what each player can do better, what we were going to do better collectively. Coaching staff. Medical staff. Everybody. We just wanted to figure this thing out leading up to the day of the Brooklyn game. And it worked out for us.”
Lakers first-year coach Darvin Ham said that it was an open forum with many voices involved, ranging from players like LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Patrick Beverley and Davis, to himself, Phil Handy and Chris Jent on the coaching staff.
“Everybody chimes in,” Ham said. “No idea is a bad idea. The only bad idea is not having an idea. We all pour in together. No one is taking personal shots or talking about attacking people’s character — it’s just attacking what we can do better. We attack the mistakes. How can we be better, how can we be a better basketball group.”
They certainly looked better against the Nets. On the offensive end, Davis contributed season-highs in points (37) and offensive rebounds (10) and the team shot 40.7% from 3, while defensively, the Lakers held the Nets to 45% overall (25.9% from 3) and allowed just 103 points, tying their season low for an opponent.
“Lot of emotions,” Davis said when asked to describe the meeting. “Guys voicing their opinions. Some back and forth. But it was all for the nature of trying to get better. So even though it might be a back-and-forth, it was, ‘OK, I hear what you’re saying, you hear what I’m saying. So now, what’s the solution?’ Instead of just constantly butting heads. So it was some good dialogue.”
Ham said that there’s a balance that has to be struck when emotions come into play.
“I think you have to be careful, because passion can slip into being emotional,” Ham said. “You want to be passionate. You don’t want to be emotional.”
Westbrook, whose decision making in the Lakers’ loss to the Sacramento Kings was referenced by Davis the night before the meeting in the big man’s postgame comments, also spoke about how beneficial the meeting was.
“I think things are moving in the right direction,” Westbrook said. “That’s all you can ask for.”
Beverley first spoke about the film session after the Nets game with the Lakers’ television partner, Spectrum SportsNet.
“You got to give a lot of credit to LeBron,” Beverley said. “He started to get on guys in the right way and guys in the locker room responded. So, credit his leadership.”
Davis said that Beverley’s leadership style has been an adjustment for the team, but comes with sage advice even when the packaging isn’t perfect.
“You got to listen, you can’t hear what they’re saying, you got to listen to what they’re saying,” Davis said. “You can’t [think], ‘Oh he’s yelling, so now I’m going to get closed off.’ … When someone’s trying to help you, we know we’re all in it for one goal and that’s to win. So you got to take the message and not the tone of the person’s voice.
“The main guy who a lot of us had to get used to for that was Pat. But he gives good messages. And he said this thing one time, he was like, ‘If I yell I LOVE YOU, you’re not going to get mad, you know what I’m saying?’ So, listen to the message and not the tone.”
The Lakers, still in second-to-last place in the Western Conference, could have an opportunity to dig out of their early-season hole coming up. They host the 3-12 Detroit Pistons on Friday in their first game since the Nets win following a five-day gap which Ham has split between practice and rest time for his players. After that, they play the San Antonio Spurs, who are currently 6-9, three times in four games.
Both Dennis Schroder and Thomas Bryant are considered probable to make their season debut against the Pistons, according to Ham. Both went through a full practice Wednesday for the first time since they both required surgery on their thumbs during the preseason.
“Unbelievable,” Davis said of their pair’s contributions in the team’s intrasquad scrimmage Wednesday. “They both played really well today.”
And James, who has missed the last two games with a strained left groin, participated in the non-contact portion of practice and is considered day-to-day heading into Friday.
Of course, Saturday’s air-it-out session will come off as just talk if the Lakers cannot stay successful with the upcoming schedule.
“Guys’ spirits are high,” Davis said. “Like, we want to put a string of wins together.”