Lakers finally reach .500 after 74 games: 'Still not finished'

ByDave McMenamin ESPN logo
Saturday, March 25, 2023

LOS ANGELES -- TheLakers' 116-111 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday brought their record to .500 for the first time all season, needing 74 games to get even after a 2-10 start.

"Now it's time, instead of constantly facing a deficit, we get to try to create a surplus, create a cushion between the wins and losses," Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. "So the guys are excited about that."

At 37-37, the Lakers reached .500 for the first time as a franchise in more than 400 days, dating back to Jan. 25, 2022, when the team was 24-24.

The last NBA team to reach .500 for the first time this late in a 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 took 74 games and the 1983-84 Phoenix Suns didn't get to .500 until Game No. 82.

"Big accomplishment but we're still not finished," said Dennis Schroder, who started in place of D'Angelo Russell (sore right hip) and finished with 21 points and six assists.

Lakers guard Lonnie Walker IV scored 20 points off the bench after only playing 12 minutes in L.A.'s past seven games, including five DNPs.

"He's the guy who won us the game, it's that simple," Schroder said of Walker. "Everybody thanked him for that tonight. This is his win."

The win was L.A.'s third in a row and gave the Lakers the same record as the Western Conference's No. 7-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves. L.A. is No. 8, however, because the Wolves own the tiebreaker by leading the season series 2-0 with only one more matchup remaining.

"We got to .500, now it's time to get on the other side and can have more wins than losses," said Anthony Davis, who led L.A. with 37 points and 15 rebounds. "So it starts Sunday. We got an opportunity to be a game above .500 against a goodBullsteam."

Hosting Chicago will be the last of L.A.'s current five-game homestand before going on the road for a four-game trip through Chicago, Minnesota, Houston and Utah.

"We just have to approach these upcoming games, these last eight, like we've been doing since the deadline: Each game is its own entity," Ham said. "We can't worry about going 6-2 or 7-1 or 5-3. We just have to approach each game and dive and pour all of ourselves into each particular game. So we'll continue to carry on as such."

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