The Los Angeles Lakers completed off an unblemished highway journey on Wednesday, profitable the three video games by a mixed 64 factors, and so they set a franchise file within the course of by starting the season 7-0 away from house.
After Lakers coach Frank Vogel knowledgeable the group its 128-99 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the 1985-86 Lakers’ highway mark of 6-0 to begin issues off, Anthony Davis could not assist however marvel if the information can evaluate, contemplating how COVID-19 has modified the whole lot.
“Is it actually a highway sport? You do not know. There’s no followers,” Davis informed reporters on a video convention name after the Thunder sport. “So, the court docket [design] is the one distinction. But we exit and attempt to compete each evening. We’re nonetheless attempting to determine issues out, and after we get a win out of it, it simply makes it a bonus.”
These Lakers proved to be highway warriors final season, reeling off 17 straight Western Conference away victories at one level, ending with the third-best highway profitable share in league historical past (.750) and capturing the NBA championship after spending 96 straight days within the bubble in Orlando, Florida.
While the highway success has continued, the circumstances have been fully scrambled. The Lakers performed the primary two video games of this 3-0 journey in Houston in entrance of socially distanced crowds of three,221 — the introduced “sellout” attendance for the Toyota Center, which usually holds round an 18,300 capability for an NBA sport.
It wasn’t a hostile expertise in an opposing area, however moderately a sight for sore eyes for some Lakers gamers who missed the followers’ presence at Staples Center, the place L.A. County security protocols stop any spectators from attending.
“It was nice to see some followers in Houston,” LeBron James stated Wednesday. “Me taking part in the sport that I like to play, then together with the followers, it is one thing I dream about on a regular basis.”
Road success has been a pattern within the league to this point, not only for the Lakers. Road groups are 88-78 this season, in accordance with knowledge compiled by ESPN Stats & Information. There has by no means been a season in NBA historical past wherein highway groups completed with a profitable file general.
But there are distinctive challenges to this season too.
Before L.A.’s second sport of the journey, the league adjusted its well being and security protocols, implementing a rating of additional restrictions as a rash of constructive coronavirus exams induced a handful of video games to be postponed throughout the nation.
Before the Thunder sport, Vogel stated his group’s aggressive edge has carried over to guarding towards COVID-19.
“We need to be a group that adheres to the protocols higher than the remainder of the groups within the league,” he stated. “We need to be one of the best at that.”
Thus far, it has labored for the Lakers, with solely three reported situations of their group members being in breach of the protocols.
“We simply have a bunker mentality after we go on the highway; it is simply us,” James stated. “And clearly, it is much more simply us, due to the restrictions and the COVID and the whole lot that is happening. So, we come collectively even nearer.”
And with no mass return by followers on the horizon any time quickly, Lakers reserve Montrezl Harrell needed to verify his group’s highway dominance obtained its due, regardless.
“Honestly, on the finish of the day, man, you bought to respect it, as a result of we went out and performed the video games, irrespective of whether or not the followers have been there or not,” Harrell stated. “Can’t no followers rating a single basket or make a cease on a defensive possession.
“So, we went on the highway and we nonetheless carried out our sport plan each offensively and defensively to win the sport. So, I do not care if followers are within the area or not. That has nothing to do with what is going on on in between these 4 strains. So, I do not pay that any thoughts. We got here out, we have accomplished a fantastic job on the highway so far and we’ll simply proceed.”