Was Lakers’ 3-3 Road Trip A Success Or Failure?

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austin reaves

The Los Angeles Lakers closed out their longest road trip of the season with a win over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night, finishing 3-3 to bring their record to 11-15.

Before the trip started, many pegged it as an opportunity for the Lakers to either sink or swim. It’s no secret that L.A. got off to a rough start this season, but they seemed to be figuring it out in recent weeks behind the dominance of Anthony Davis.

Playing six straight games on the road against some quality opponents like the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors, it was a good opportunity for the Lakers to measure their progress.

Before the trip, Davis stated that going above .500, so 4-2 or better, would be a successful trip for L.A.

Things got off to a good start with the Lakers beating the Bucks and Washington Wizards in back-to-back games. They then lost three straight though before beating the Pistons in the finale though, going 3-3 overall.

By Davis’ standards, the trip was not a success. But I honestly feel differently and here is why.

Injuries played a factor

The main reason why I don’t mind the 3-3 record is because injuries played a large factor in it.

Davis got off to a monster start to the road trip, averaging 49.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 3.0 blocks in ther first two games, leading L.A. to back-to-back victories.

Unfortunately though, the big man then came down with the flu which only allowed him to play the first seven minutes of the Cavaliers game before sitting out against the Raptors.

The Lakers lost both of those games in Davis’ absence with LeBron James also sitting out against the Raptors. Had they played then we may be talking about a much different trip, especially considering how much of a groove Davis is currently in.

Upon returning, Davis picked up where he left off, averaging 32.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.5 blocks in the final two games.

In the last 11 full games that Davis has played, the Lakers are 8-3. One of those losses came on a buzzer-beater and another came in overtime. While relying on Davis to stay healthy is not exactly ideal, this team is proving to be able to compete against anyone as long as he is on the floor.

L.A. got signature win over Bucks

Another reason I view the road trip as a success is that the Lakers got their first signature win over the season when they beat Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks.

Many view the Bucks as one of the few championship contenders, so the fact that the Lakers went on the road and beat them almost wire-to-wire is the first time they have raised some eyebrows across the league.

Davis went toe-to-toe with Antetokounmpo with 44 points and 10 rebounds and the Lakers played well in crunchtime to close out the victory.

Before that point, many questioned the legitimacy of the Lakers’ recent improvements due to the poor competition they had played. After beating the Bucks on the road though, that argument could be put to rest.

Team almost had miracle comeback against 76ers

While the Lakers got their first signature victory over the Bucks on this trip, they almost had a second one.

Against Joel Embiid and the 76ers, the Lakers found themselves trailing all night with Davis in foul trouble.

They made a late charge though, erasing a 16-point deficit in the final three minutes and a 9-point deficit in the final 30 seconds to tie the game.

Davis had a chance to win it in regulation but missed his second free throw, allowing the 76ers to regain control in overtime to get the win.

Although they came up short, that comeback attempt showed me a lot about these Lakers. This team is clearly buying into new head coach Darvin Ham and as a result, have been playing with great effort for 48 minutes every night.

That was not the case last season when the Lakers would often quit when facing adversity. This year’s team has some fight in them though, and it was good to see them show it against another quality opponent in the 76ers.

The Lakers are not without flaws, but they clearly are taking steps in the right direction and that was evident on the road trip despite the 3-3 record.