LOS ANGELES — The Lakers’ 116-111 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday brought their record to .500 for the first time all season and required 74 games to equal from a 2-10 start.
“Now is the time, rather than constantly being in deficit, let’s try to create a surplus, create a cushion between wins and losses,” said Lakers coach Darvin Ham. “So the boys are excited about it.”
Going 37-37, the Lakers hit .500 for the first time in more than 400 days as a franchise, dating back to Jan. 25, 2022 when the team was 24-24.
The last NBA team to hit .500 this late in the season was the 2003-04 Miami Heat, which took 78 games to get there, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The 1988-89 Washington Bullets also won 74 games and the 1983-84 Phoenix Suns didn’t reach .500 until Game #82.
“Great effort but we’re not finished yet,” said Dennis Schroder, who started in place of D’Angelo Russell (right hip pain) and finished with 21 points and six assists.
Lakers guard Lonnie Walker IV scored 20 points off the bench after playing just 12 minutes in LA’s last seven games, including five DNPs.
“He’s the guy who won us the game, simple as that,” Schroder said of Walker. “Everyone thanked him tonight. This is his win.”
The win was LA’s third straight and gave the Lakers the same record as the 7th-seeded Western Conference-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves. However, LA is No. 8 as Wolves own the tiebreaker by leading the season series 2-0 with just one matchup remaining.
“We got to .500, now it’s time to go to the other side and have more wins than losses,” said Anthony Davis, who led LA with 37 points and 15 rebounds. “So it starts on Sunday. We have an opportunity to play a .500 game against a good Bulls team.”
The Chicago staging will be the last of LA’s current five-game home grandstand before heading into a four-game trip through Chicago, Minnesota, Houston and Utah.
“We just have to tackle these upcoming games, these last eight, like we’ve been doing since deadline day: each game is its own entity,” Ham said. “We can’t worry about a 6-2, 7-1 or 5-3. We just have to approach each game and immerse ourselves in each and every game and give ourselves completely. So we will continue like this. “
https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/35940765/lakers-reach-500-74-games-not-finished Lakers finally reach .500 after 74 games