For the first time since the two teams played at Disney World with virtual fans in attendance, the Los Angeles Lakers have defeated the Los Angeles Clippers. It took an overtime period of basketball but the Lakers ended the Clippers’ 11-game winning streak in the head-to-head matchup on Wednesday night.
The game did not start out promising as the Clippers comfortably led and controlled the game in the first half. That is when the Lake Show flipped a switch, putting together a dominant third quarter to turn a 13-point deficit into a two-point lead.
It was a back-and-forth game in the fourth quarter and overtime but ultimately the purple and gold were able to execute when it mattered and pull off the win. Perhaps craziest of all, the Lakers did this despite being down multiple role players and running just a seven-man rotation.
Darvin Ham had quite the challenge in front of him and he more than delivered.
Darvin Ham proves naysayers wrong in Lakers win over Clippers
Darvin Ham has been getting slack from the fan base and from basketball pundits for how he is running the Lakers this far this season. There are certainly a lot of disagreements with how Ham stacks the rotation, with some fans starting to question whether or not he is the man for the job.
Those fans questioning Ham should be questioning their doubt in the first place after this kind of coaching performance. It takes guts to run a seven-deep rotation and beat a talented rival and the Lakers did just that.
It wasn’t just that the players played well, they ultimately justified Ham’s decisions. He put them in a position to win. It began with starting Cam Reddish after Taurean Prince and Gabe Vincent were ruled out. Naturally, despite him not being part of the rotation thus far this season, many fans wanted to see Max Christie get the start.
Reddish played great in his starting role, playing key defense that definitely played a big part in the Lakers winning this game. LeBron James heaped praise on Reddish, who certainly played better than Christie did off the bench.
As an aside, Christie is not ready for an extended role in the rotation. He is a 20-year-old second-round pick in his second season. Most players in his situation aren’t ready to contribute to a contender, and that’s okay.
Ham’s other bold choice that was instantly mocked on social media was his decision to run out a lineup that consisted of Davis, Christian Wood and Jaxson Hayes. This three-man lineup was unconventional, but guess what? It worked.
Is this something the Lakers can deploy a lot throughout the rest of the season? Not at all. But Ham pulled the right strings and did what he needed to do to win the game in front of him on Wednesday night.
Ham is not a perfect head coach, and he certainly will make mistakes at points throughout his tenure with the team. But if there is one takeaway that Lakers fans should have from Wednesday, it is that Ham can adjust on the fly and definitely can be the guy to lead the Lakers to the promised land.