GM hopes Lak­ers get men­tally tough

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Sports -

Gen­eral man­ager Rob Pelinka hopes the Los An­ge­les Lak­ers will come out of a tu­mul­tuous trade dead­line pe­riod with more men­tal tough­ness for the stretch run.

Af­ter 10 days of teamwide un­cer­tainty dur­ing their widely re­ported pur­suit of dis­grun­tled New Or­leans su­per­star An­thony Davis, Pelinka said he be­lieves the Lak­ers will bounce back strongly.

Pelinka al­ready saw signs of it Thurs­day night, when Los An­ge­les beat Bos­ton on Ra­jon Rondo’s dra­matic win­ning bas­ket just a few hours af­ter the dead­line passed and Davis re­mained with the Pel­i­cans.

“What I’ve come to learn is that any time in life you face a chal­lenge or a mo­ment of ad­ver­sity, you have to look at that as an op­por­tu­nity,” Pelinka said Fri­day. “When you go through any­thing as a team, if you go through ad­ver­sity, you can choose how to re­spond. Does it draw you closer to­gether, or does it push you fur­ther apart?”

Pelinka and his boss, Magic John­son, also re­main con­fi­dent in the Lak­ers’ abil­ity to end the fran­chise’s five-year play­off drought this spring, even with­out Davis in pur­ple and gold.

Af­ter a pro­longed slump dur­ing the long­est in­jury ab­sence of LeBron James’ 16-year NBA ca­reer, the Lak­ers (28-27) be­gan Fri­day in 10th place in the West­ern Con­fer­ence, but just three games be­hind sixth-place Utah. The Lak­ers’ play­off drought is more than dou­ble the pre­vi­ous long­est in fran­chise his­tory.

“I think we — re­ally (owner) Jeanie (Buss), Magic, Luke and I — are all aligned,” Pelinka said. “We re­ally want to make a push to try to make the playoffs this year. It’s been a five-year ab­sence for our fans, and we think that’s an im­por­tant step to re­turn to con­tend­ing for cham­pi­onships.”

NHL

DUCKS COACH FIRED » Ana­heim Ducks gen­eral man­ager Bob Mur­ray tried to give Randy Car­lyle as much time as pos­si­ble to turn things around. But a se­v­engame los­ing streak and freefall into last place in the West­ern Con­fer­ence showed Mur­ray that a turn­around wasn’t com­ing soon.

Mur­ray an­nounced that he would take over as in­terim coach for the re­main­der of the reg­u­lar sea­son af­ter fir­ing Car­lyle on Sun­day. Ana­heim will hire a new coach fol­low­ing the sea­son.

“What has hap­pened here lately and how we have played, it was time for change,” Mur­ray said dur­ing a con­fer­ence call. “Some peo­ple thought I waited far too long but this team has a his­tory of com­ing on and charg­ing late. I re­al­ized it wasn’t go­ing to hap­pen a few days ago that it wasn’t go­ing to hap­pen.”

Af­ter no fir­ings last year, the Ducks are the sixth team to make a change this sea­son, join­ing Los An­ge­les, Chicago, St. Louis, Ed­mon­ton and Philadel­phia.

The 62-year-old Car­lyle, the win­ningest coach in Ducks his­tory, was in his sec­ond stint with Ana­heim.

He led the team to the Stan­ley Cup in 2007 and three ap­pear­ances in the West­ern Con­fer­ence Fi­nal (2006, 2007, 2017).

Ana­heim has made the playoffs six straight sea­sons but won just two of its last 21 games. The Ducks were sec­ond in the Pa­cific Di­vi­sion on Dec. 18 af­ter win­ning 11 of 13, but they have gone 2-15-4 since.

Satur­day’s 6-2 loss at Philadel­phia capped a five-game trip where the Ducks had been outscored 29-7.

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