March 2, 2024

He will “fight” to the end because that’s all Darvin Ham knows, and as the coach of the Lakers he wants his players to fight to the end.

Right now, the Lakers are taking blows from opponent after opponent after opponent.

The latest hit came from the Memphis Grizzlies, a hit that sent the Lakers to their fourth straight loss, their 10th in their last 13 games, and left them two games below .500.

They are a wobbly group that hasn’t been the same since winning the NBA’s in-season tournament a little more than three weeks ago.

“I’m in this thing for the fight and I’m not about to hang my head or anything,” Ham said after the Lakers gave up 69 second-half points. “I’m disappointed we lost, disappointed that we have lost multiple games now in a row. But it’s just only going to make the fire bigger in my chest to try to figure this thing out, and that was my message to the team after the game. We got to fight. I’ve been through much, much worse and we are going to figure this thing out, for sure.”

Do the Lakers have the same fight as their coach?

Ham assured the media that they do.

He knows there is pressure on him as the coach. There is pressure on LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the two captains, to lead this group out of these doldrums.

“Naw, they are just ready to be done with this, done with this slide,” he said. “Obviously no one wants to lose. It’s disappointing to lose. But we can’t make the mistake of getting discouraged. Like, everybody is going to nitpick at me, the staff, players, the organization, whatever, whatever. We got to block out all the noise. Like, block out all the noise, don’t pay attention to it. Focus on how we can be better.

“Whatever the mistakes are, whatever went wrong, look at it, analyze it and try to correct it, and that’s it. You have to be solution based. You definitely have to be numb to whatever is going on outside. If they are not the Lakers, then don’t pay attention to it. Just lock in on us and try to see how we can be the best version of ourselves, through our work, our daily work.”

James, 39, has been in the NBA for 21 seasons now and he knows the light will be on him to help the Lakers get out of this rut.

He was asked what he can do to help the team turn it around.

Lakers forward Anthony Davis drives to the basket against Grizzlies center Bismarck Biyombo.

Lakers forward Anthony Davis, driving to the basket against Grizzlies center Bismarck Biyombo, had 31 points while playing nearly 41 minutes on Friday night.

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

“What do I do?” James repeated. “I show up to work, punch my clock every day, stay positive and go out and try to lead out on the floor, try to inspire on the floor, that’s what I do.”

What he did Friday night was play 38 minutes and 50 seconds and score 32 points.

Davis played 40:58 and had 31 points.

That’s a combined 63 points and it still wasn’t enough for the Lakers to win.

“So, we gotta stay together, for sure, and figure it out,” Davis said. “We can’t be in our feelings. We can’t be complaining or whatever. We can’t take anything personal. We have to look individually, myself, everyone in the locker room, the coaching staff, look at ourselves in the mirror and figure out what we can do individually better to help the team be better. And I think then we can come out and flip things around. And it doesn’t have to be anything substantial. It can be, the ball swings to me, I gotta shoot the ball. I can’t hesitate. It can be something as simple as that. But it has to come from within.”

Through all of this, Davis said the Lakers have to stay the course.

There can’t be any finger pointing. There can’t be any let up during the bad times. And it won’t get any easier for the Lakers because next up are the hot Clippers on Sunday.

“You got to stay together in this locker room. The guys in this locker room, the guys on the coaching staff, we all stay together and find our way out of it,” Davis said. “There’s no help coming. There’s no cavalry. We got to do it with the guys we’ve got and remain together.

“I think that’s the biggest thing. But my job as one of the leaders is to help the guys and instill confidence in them still and have their back. We can’t separate and my job, Bron, our job as leaders is to make sure these guys stay connected but also figuring out what we need to do individually and as a team.”

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