The Los Angeles Lakers have once again suffered a blowout loss in their road game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday. Three days before that, LeBron James and company were outplayed by the Philadelphia 76ers.
The King voiced frustration after that game, but looked happier when his teammates beat the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night. Now that the purple and gold lost again, James pointed out at the injuries that hampered the team this season.
“I thought we played really good ball [in] our first quarter. But after that you could start seeing the three in four nights, the back-to-back, the bodies that we don’t have start to wear on us, especially versus a young team like OKC,” James said, via Spectrum SportsNet.
Lakers dealing with injuries early in the season
The Lakers have dealt with notable absences in their rotation in the first 20 games of the 2023-24 NBA season. Jarred Vanderbilt, Gabe Vincent, Cam Reddish, Rui Hachimura have already all spent time on the sidelines. In James’ eyes, this is taking a toll on the team.
“I have no idea what we are. How? We don’t have our group yet. I know what some of us individually are, but as far as a team, we don’t have our group yet. I don’t know. We haven’t had enough minutes with our group to be like OK, this is the starting group, we got the guys coming in, we got a good rhythm. I mean, we’re over .500. We’re 11-9 with literally not ever having our same group. That’s pretty impressive,” James said.
The King has a fair point, but their record is still not enough to be among the top six teams in the Western Conference. Austin Reaves echoed James’ sentiment though, claiming injuries are holding them back.
“We’ve had so many injuries, had guys out, guys not played. It’s kind of been a next man up mentality, which I think we’re good at, but at the same time, when you’re missing guys that are key pieces of what you’re trying to do, it’s tough,” Reaves said. “So I think we’re in a good spot, obviously we have some things we need to work on and things that we do well, as every team does. We like where we’re at.”
Darvin Ham doesn’t want to risk players
Darvin Ham is in his second year at the helm of the Lakers but his work hasn’t convinced fans yet. His adjustments have often been criticized, while he’s also been blamed for the team’s inconsistent production in offense.
However, the coach is still optimistic about his project, and he also mentioned injuries as a stumbling block this year. Besides, he added that it’s not smart to risk players who are not completely healthy.
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“We feel like we got a solid plan and process in place. Whatever can be done extra, obviously we’ll explore that. But right now, we’re comfortable where we are getting guys back to playing in a real game. Unfortunate things happen, you get these knick knack injuries, like Jaxson [Hayes] for example, he gets pulled out. And then Cam, working him back in. So you have to be smart. You can’t be selfish and put these guys at risk just to throw them out there to be balanced.“
The Lakers return to action on Sunday against the Houston Rockets, hoping they get some good news in regard to their players’ status. There’s still a long way to go in the season, but every loss hurts.