Lakers come out of All-Star break looking to pick up where they left off – Daily News

EL SEGUNDO — Their minds and bodies have been able to rest and relax for the last week. The All-Star break allowed for a “reset,” as guard D’Angelo Russell put it after Wednesday’s practice, the team’s first since the break ended.

Now, the hope for the Lakers is that they’ll be able to pick up where they left off and keep their winning momentum going after finding their groove before the break.

“It’s just continuing to play the game the right way,” guard Austin Reaves said. “It’s not much rocket science behind it. If we have to, go back and watch the games where we played well. And just replicate that.

“We can’t control always making shots or missing shots and all that, but you can control effort and playing the game the right way. I don’t think it should have an impact if you always play the game the right way.”

The Lakers won six of their last seven games before the break, including a 138-122 victory over the Utah Jazz on Feb. 14 to put them at 30-26 – the first time they’ve been at least four games over .500 since mid-December.

They’re ninth in the Western Conference standings – 1½ games ahead of the Golden State Warriors, their opponent on Thursday night, for No. 10, the final spot in the play-in tournament standings, and 3½ games behind the New Orleans Pelicans, who are currently sixth in the West.

ESPN’s Power Index gives the Lakers a 47.7% chance to make the playoffs – the ninth-best odds in the conference.

But they were even further behind in the play-in/playoffs race around this time last season when they entered the break at 27-32, winning 16 of their final 23 regular-season games before making a run to the conference finals.

And while the Lakers didn’t have significant roster changes ahead of the trade deadline like they did last year, which sparked last year’s playoff push, going through the experience last year gives them confidence they can make a similar run to close out this season.

“It’s a new season, but you can look back and see the position that we were in last year and how we finished the season and carrying that momentum into the playoffs,” Reaves said. “You can look back and kind of think back to how we were successful going down the stretch and try to do it now.”

And the sense of urgency to make sure they don’t waste opportunities to make up ground in the standings over the final 26 regular-season games is there.

“The leader of our team is LeBron James. [Anthony Davis] following,” Russell said. “Those guys just came off All-Star appearances. That reset helped them, makes it easier for us to follow them. I’m going to have my mind right. I can’t speak for everybody, but I know I’m going to do what I can to help keep us there. When you’ve got those guys leading the pack, makes everything easier.”


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