Why the Lakers have been playing better on the road than at Staples Center this season

Ryan Ward
4 Min Read

The end of the 2019-20 NBA season was about as surreal as it gets. The league was forced to shut down the season due to a COVID-19 outbreak only to start it up again in a bubble environment that worked like a charm, resulting in the Los Angeles Lakers coming out victorious.

15 games into the 2020-21 campaign, things have gotten even stranger with multiple games around the league postponed and fans only being let into select arenas at limited numbers.

Unfortunately for the Lakers, Staples Center is not one of the arenas in the NBA allowed to have fans cheering in the stands. This has impacted the defending champions, who have suffered all four of their losses on their home floor in Los Angeles.

After losing for the fourth time at Staples Center this season on Monday night, Anthony Davis was asked why the Lakers have played so well on the road and so inconsistent at home.

“There’s no fans, so the home crowd isn’t there to get the home team amped up or when they go on a run, screaming and things like that,” Davis said. “There’s territory any time any game is played whether it’s home or away, so I think that’s the only difference.

“There’s no energy in the arena for the home team like there usually is.”

The Lakers currently own the best road record in the league at 7-0 as opposed to being only .500 at home at 4-4.

Similar Results Across the Board

Other Western Conference teams are seeing similar success on the road this season like the San Antonio Spurs. Gregg Popovich’s squad is 6-2 away from their home floor but struggle in San Antonio with a home record of 2-4.

The same goes for the Utah Jazz (7-2), Portland Trail Blazers (4-2), Memphis Grizzlies (4-1), Oklahoma City Thunder (5-1) and Denver Nuggets (3-2). Each one of these teams has a better road record than it does at home.

Ironically enough, every team mentioned played in the bubble and may have figured out a way to flourish in a controlled environment.

There may be a reason for teams struggling at home. Players and teams as a whole may let their guard down while at home. The records of these teams in the West seem to suggest that. The added freedom of being in their home city or ability to sleep in their home bed may be enough to throw them off for the time being.

Extra Energy Needed for the Champs

One thing is for certain, the energy that fans bring in a home arena like Staples Center is something sorely missed. Not only by the players and the organizations they play for, but the fans themselves as they’ve been deprived of being able to let loose and show their love for their team.

The Lakers have perhaps suffered the most by losing fans to COVID-19 restrictions. The fact that the team has been unable to celebrate the franchise’s 17th championship may be taking a toll. That contagious energy in the arena is something a team like the Lakers can draw from, and seeing empty stands with a banner still uncovered may be enough to impact play for the time being.

As the Lakers attempt to pick up the pieces from another home loss, the team will hit the road once again. LeBron James and company will embark on a seven-game road trip starting with a highly anticipated matchup with Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday.

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Ryan is a veteran sportswriter who has covered the NBA and NFL for nearly a decade. Along with numerous exclusive interviews with professional athletes, Ryan has been credentialed by the Los Angeles Lakers since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RyanWardLA.