LakeShow Takes: No LeBron, another loss... so what's new?
Twenty-three (for a certain, unnamed No. 23) takes from the Los Angeles Lakers' 118-107 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night at Staples Center...
1. The Lakers played their second consecutive game without their No. 23, LeBron James (strained left groin) -- and lost. That's nothing new for James' teams that are forced to play without his services.
2. According to ESPN Stats & Information, James' teams have now lost 13 consecutive games in which James doesn't play, dating back to last season with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
3. Without James, there was a noticeable difference in the Lakers. I know, "Duh!" But even coach Luke Walton admitted as such after watching the Clippers go off on a 22-0 run that decided the outcome.
4. "I felt like we kind of started to splinter a little bit while it was happening," Walton said. "That can't happen. We can lose games, but we'll lose them together. When we win them, we'll win them together. No matter what's happening on the court, we have to stay together and keep working and figure it out."
5. The Lakers (20-16) also played without Rajon Rondo (hand) and JaVale McGee (pneumonia). The trio tried to encourage their teammates, but it was different from having them on the court.
6. "They were trying to talk to us in the best way they could, but it's not the same as them being out there," point guard Lonzo Ball, who had 19 points, five rebounds and six assists in a game-high 43 minutes, said. "So we just got to step up and accept the roles that we're coming into right now."
7.Kyle Kuzma led the Lakers with 24 points and added eight boards and five dimes, but missed all seven of his attempts from beyond the 3-point arc and committed four turnovers. He agreed with Walton's assessment in regard to the "splintering" within the team and said it must end.
8. "We can't be a front-running team," Kuzma said. "When things are up, we can't just all be happy, and then when things are down, we're just separate from each other. So the biggest thing for us is just to always be together."
9. Kuzma said what the Lakers are experiencing right now is common across the NBA.
10. "Every team has rough patches in a season. And we've been down bodies all year, different lineups," he said. "And we can't let those things affect us. It's all about us sticking together and just keeping it like a fist."
11. Ball admitted frustration has set in, but said the team cannot allow it to fester.
12. "I mean, guys were getting frustrated," he said. "Anytime a team goes on a 22-0 run, it's not going to be all fine and dandy. We got to regroup. We can't argue with each other. We're on the same team."
13.Brandon Ingram scored 17 points and seven rebounds against the Clippers, but made just six of a dozen attempts from the free-throw line. He said the frustration among the group is a signal it is united toward reaching the same goals.
14. "It just shows a lot about how much our players care about each other, care about the team," Ingram said. "When the other guys are getting on each other and coming into the huddle trying to get on each other, it just shows how much they care about the basketball game and how much they want to win."
15. The Clippers (21-14), who were led by Lou Williams. The NBA's reigning Sixth Man of the Year led all scorers with 36 points shot 11 of 18 from the floor and was perfect from deep (3 of 3) and the charity stripe (11 of 11), adding seven rebounds and three assists in only 31 minutes.
16. When coach Doc Rivers surrounded Williams with defensive stalwarts Patrick Beverley, Sindarius Thornwell, Tyrone Wallace and Montrezl Harrell in the third quarter the tone of the game changed.
17. "Whether it was bringing the ball upcourt, trying to get open to run a set, they were pushing us off our spots, and we let that happen," Walton said. "We know that's going to happen. We're playing five 20-year-olds. Being a vet in this league, this being a man's league, you see young guys [and] you go after them physically."
18. Walton added the game will serve as a learning experience for the Lakers, who have now dropped five of their last seven games.
19. "We talked about it after the game. That's going to happen," he said. "It's going to happen again each and every night we step out, until we're ready to fight back."
20. With Rondo out for an expected four to five weeks, James' return date undetermined and McGee having now missed seven consecutive games, the Lakers' struggles are not surprising, though they are "a little different" from what they went through early in the season, according to Ball.
21. "We went on a win streak last time," he said. "We've got to go on another one this time."
22. The Lakers have lost 22 of their last 25 games against the Clippers. They now trail their arena-mates by a game and a half in the rugged Western Conference.
23. “We gotta regroup,” Ball said. “We can’t argue with each other, we’re on the same team. LeBron and Rondo, obviously, are both our leaders, too, not only being vets. They’ve been doing this a long time, they know what it’s like. They were trying to talk to us the best way they could but it’s not the same as them being out there. We just gotta step up and accept the roles that we’re coming into right now.”