Lakers drop below .500 as LeBron James returns from injury

BOSTON – LeBron James‘returned from a lengthy absence that could not be cured of the inconsistent play that plagued his team on both ends and was on full display in Lakers130-108 holes come Celtics on Friday.

The loss brought Los Angeles – one of the favorites to win the championship – to 8-9 with more than a fifth of the season on record.

“Never,” We’ve 65 games left,” James said when asked if he could do the math long-term considering the Lakers’ early injuries and the 82-game rate in the regular season remaining. . “We definitely need to play better, no matter who’s in the squad. We have our system and we obviously need to fast-track it and do better with it so that we can play, no matter who is out in the field, we can play at a high level. … There’s no level of panic, but there needs to be some sense of urgency whenever we drop the floor. “

James played for the first time in two-and-a-half weeks due to abs tight and showing signs of aging, scoring 23 points in a series of 10 shots, 16 rebounds, two assists and two steals, but only three times he hit the ball. shot. in the paintwork, it could be seen as a sign of the caution the 19-year-old has played, in the face of his third major injury in four seasons.

“Physically, I feel fine and good enough to know that I can trust my body and go out and play tonight,” James said. “So I look forward to knowing how I feel tomorrow when I wake up. It’s an indication if I’m on track with my injury.”

However, no one knows which direction the Lakers are headed.

Boston beats Los Angeles 51-33 despite starting center Robert Williams III (averaging 9.2 team best rebounds per game) out of the lineup.

“I mean… recovery,” said Russell Westbrook. “You can’t do too much. Just go get the ball… as simple as that.”

The Lakers, who had led to 14 in the first half, saw their third-half disaster continue, while the Celtics broke things down 33-21 innings after the break.

“We have to commit to playing as an offensive team,” said Lakers coach Frank Vogel. “And when we did, as we saw in the first quarter, it looked good and you see the potential of what we could have. But we held the ball too much and didn’t play for each other enough. But it’s part of learning from each other and building that bond and the right habits. And then defensively, the guys have a big role to play if they commit to the defensive side. otherwise, they’re not. Simple as that.”

130 points for Boston is the most points the Lakers have all season.

“We can go out and play every night, but I don’t think it’s our offense. I think it’s our defense, to be honest,” Anthony Davis, who leads the Lakers with 31 points. “We just have to do better defensively.”

For Westbrook, the better player than the point guard he was brought in as a substitute, Dennis Schroder – as Boston’s keeper had 21 points, six assists and six rebounds compared to Westbrook’s 12, six and four – there was an element of déjà vu. It was another nasty night for him and his new team as they struggled to come together.

“I think the reality is that everyone on the outside has really high expectations of our team, as they should,” Westbrook said. “But the reality is that we haven’t really played with each other in a realistic way, and no one cares and everyone is asking the same questions, and I’m tired of giving the same answer to the same question. a question every time we lose.

“It was like, ‘Hey, how long do you think it’s going to take?’ We don’t know. When we win, it’s still going to take some time. So the reality of it is, throughout the season, there’s going to be ups and downs. Now that’s what you guys are. do as a team. You can split up, or you can come together and figure it out.”

The Lakers still don’t have Kendrick Nunn (right knee) and Trevor Ariza (right ankle), both have yet to appear in a game this season. And rookie swingman Austin Reaves continues to be sidelined with a hamstring strain.

James said he’d like to see the team settle on a consistent basis – or thrive, with DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard get the majority of minutes in the center, or minor, with Davis in 5th – and stick with it.

He also doesn’t want the team to run away from its troubles.

“It’s never as bad as it seems, and it’s never as good as it can feel,” James said. “So I stay steadfast throughout the journey. I understand this is a [undertaking]. It’s a process for us. And I always feel comfortable when things are uncomfortable, so I look forward to our process of trying to get better.

“And we get better. Don’t try. We’ll get better. We’ll improve.”

https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/32670791/lakers-fall-500-lebron-james-return-injury-no-level-panic-some-sense-urgency Lakers drop below .500 as LeBron James returns from injury

John Verrall

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