They have never been whole during this already painful season, the injuries mounting, the illnesses mounting and the losses mounting for the Lakers in the process.
And just as they got another player back from the sick bay for their game against the Sacramento Kings on Friday night at Crypto.com Arena, the Lakers lost their best player when it was ruled that LeBron James wasn’t going to play because of a strained left adductor that was suffered during Wednesday night’s loss against the Clippers.
James has been listed as day to day, but his injury could leave him off the court for at least Sunday’s home game against the Brooklyn Nets.
The Lakers don’t play again after that until hosting the Detroit Pistons next Friday, which would give James eight days to recover.
James had sat out one game before this injury, sitting out Monday’s game at Utah because of a sore foot.
On the other hand, the Lakers did get back guard Lonnie Walker IV, who had sat out the last two games because of a non-COVID illness. And perhaps more importantly, Anthony Davis was able to play despite not participating in Friday morning’s shootaround because of a non-COVID illness. Patrick Beverley was playing in his second straight game after sitting out the previous two because of a non-COVID illness.
In the middle of all of this, the Lakers can’t win games, their 120-114 loss to the Kings on Friday extending their losing streak to five.
Some 30 minutes after the game was over, Lakers coach Darin Ham finally spoke to reporters, saying his “overall message was maintaining, sustaining our competitive edge.”
At least he spoke. Russell Westbrook left the arena without speaking to reporters.
“At the end of the day, we all just got to be on the same page, be together, compete together and be accountable,” Ham said. “And me at the top of that list. My staff and I, we feel these losses more than anybody. Well, just as great as anybody. We’re eager to get to work to try to correct some things.”
The Lakers were tied at 114-114, but they couldn’t contain De’Aaron Fox, watching him blow by Lakers defenders to score back-to-back baskets in the lane to give the Kings a four-point lead that gave the guard 32 points to go along with 12 assists.
The Lakers, meanwhile, missed their last six shots after the score was tied, none of them close.
So, even with Davis producing 24 points and 14 rebounds, Westbrook 21 points, 11 assists and five turnovers and Austin Reaves 19 points, the Lakers couldn’t win because their defense failed them again when it was needed the most.
“There’s no worse feeling than losing, especially when you put all your time and effort into the game and when you really love it,” Walker said. “It’s a long season. Got to stay optimistic.”
The Lakers are now 2-10, tied with the Houston Rockets for the worst record in the NBA. The Lakers were not eight games under .500 last season until March 3.
“We know there is a sense of urgency there where we have to get on the right side of these games,” Ham said. “For me, I can’t go ball up in a corner with my baby bottle and start crying and whining. I got to step the hell up. That’s what I plan to do. Me and my staff, everybody in that building. We got to pull together and try to make this thing work.”
The Lakers said that Thomas Bryant, who underwent surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament on his left thumb, and Dennis Schroder, who underwent surgery to repair the collateral ligament on his right thumb, were both reevaluated this week and both are progressing well. Both Bryant and Schroder will be reevaluated again Thursday.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.