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Suns are regaining the top spot from jazz; Lakers drop drastically; Bulls move into the top 3

Health and safety protocols have set the league's power structure in motion (Author: Gardener)

SunsThe Bulls had postponed three games in the past eight days, but they looked fine in the two they played and beat the Lakers and Rockets. DeMar DeRozan was a welcome sight to Chicago and picked up where he left off with an average of 32 points and six assists at 52 percent shooting on the two wins. An already exhausted squad was further hampered by injuries to Alex Caruso and Derrick Jones Jr., but players like Javonte Green and Alfonzo McKinnie filled the minutes. Unfortunately for Brooklyn, Durant entered the logs ahead of the next game, a loss to Magic before the team's next two competitions were graciously postponed. Perhaps due in part to Durant's recent strain, the Nets have decided to allow Kyrie Irving to play part-time once he's off the logs and in game shape. So we'll see how this affects the team. The Grizzlies started the week with a win over the Kings, scooping 11 wins in 12 games, but left the next two to the Blazers and Thunder. The OKC loss was particularly tough given that they had beaten it by 73 points a few weeks earlier and because Ja Morant had returned, "injured" by comments from Memphis fans telling him he should have stayed on the sidelines . Morant had 16 points and eight assists in their first game in almost a month, while Dillon Brooks led the team this week with 26.3 points per game. The team's top scorer averaged 21 points and six assists in the last two games of the week, while Terance Mann and Eric Bledsoe fell off the line-up along with Reggie Jackson and Luke Kennard in their win over Sacramento. In the last two Clippers games, Serge Ibaka exceeded the 20-minute mark for the first time since the beginning of December with an average of 10.5 points and 6.5 rebounds. A loss to the Suns put the Wizards' skid to four games before beating back to beating jazz in Utah for one of their biggest wins of the season. The next game against the Nets has been postponed, so Washington hopes it can take the momentum to return to the early season victories. It starts with Bradley Beal looking like himself after averaging 31.5 points and six assists in the last two games at 57 percent shooting. Anthony Davis is out for at least a month with a knee injury and Isaiah Thomas, who was out of the league a week ago, played for them over 26 minutes per game in the three losses. It seems like the Lakers couldn't have won lately without herculean performances from LeBron James, and that's a huge challenge for a soon-to-be-37-year-old with a few permanent injuries. Kemba Walker made a triumphant return to rotation in the last two games of the week, averaging 25 points, seven rebounds and four assists on 40 percent 3-point shooting at least six weeks after an ankle surgery. Evan Fournier broke out of his season low on a grand scale this week, scoring 25.7 points per game on 41 percent 3-point shooting. The Kings managed to win a multiplayer game on logs this week and beat the Spurs along with losses against the Grizzlies, Warriors and Clippers. This week was all about Tyrese Haliburton, who averaged 23.5 points, 11.3 assists and shot 50 percent from the 3-point line when Sacramento's lone offensive creator was sidelined with De'Aaron Fox. Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes also filled it from afar, but it was hard for them and Haliburton to keep the performance at over 38 minutes per game each.

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Uncertainty is clouding the Lakers' near future and has had an impact on their game

The team have used smaller lineups out of necessity, but the lack of familiarity between some players is evident and others may push themselves to make mistakes. (Author: Gardener)

It's the old adage: one game at a time. The Lakers are stuck in a three game slide, narrowing their leeway to what is directly in front of them. That's because with the recent outbreak of COVID-19 in the NBA and the league, who knows what's behind it today. The Lakers met on Wednesday to review the movie of Tuesday's loss to the Phoenix Suns and reportedly to prepare for Thursday's game against San Antonio. In their own meeting, they were missing four players (Malik Monk, Avery Bradley, Austin Reaves, and Kent Bazemore), head coach Frank Vogel, and a number of other staff who usually contribute to the meetings. Their Christmas game against the Brooklyn Nets, long considered one of the NBA's regular season banner matches, is in serious jeopardy after the league postponed the Nets' third game in a row. "You take it easy and live by the day, you just don't know what's going to happen," said striker Carmelo Anthony. The NBA has shown its determination to push through this latest surge in positive coronavirus tests, which in December alone (more than 120) dwarfed the total number of players and staff who recorded all of last season's logs. The league has made provisions for teams with significant numbers of staff in protocols like the Lakers, allowing 10-day hardship contracts and an extended period for two-way contract players. The Lakers have apparently stabilized in their roster with no new player cases as of Sunday morning but there is no way to plan when the four players who are still in the logs will be tested. Vogel is also concerned with this question. Interim trainer David Fizdale sends his coaching insights from a distance via Zoom and SMS. Fizdale admitted that he isn't sure whether or not he will lead the Lakers against the Spurs; it depends on how Vogel's tests go. “It's an everyday situation and we won't let ourselves into how unhappy it all is or how disruptive it all is. The team chose smaller lineups out of necessity and played more minutes with LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Trevor Ariza in the middle or in power forward. While center Dwight Howard was technically available on Tuesday night, the Lakers decided to give him a few more days to physically prepare after being banned from the previous week's logs. When Anthony was thrown out on his second technical on Tuesday night, he admitted that he had lost consciousness after feeling an elbow against his ribs while attempting a shot. Although, countered Anthony, maybe there are times the Lakers will need that spark. "The only thing I have is that I let the boys down, I let the team down because I don't, I get kicked out and get into situations like this," he said. Maybe we need that, that kind of fire. We need that kind of energy. I miss this game. ”The decreased depth also changes the way some of the sane Lakers approach the game. Talen Horton-Tucker and Isaiah Thomas won't get together often to go 2 for 24 (0 for 14 from the 3 point range) like they did against Phoenix, but some players inevitably feel under pressure to put more on their shoulders to get the team out of the crisis. This could have been a factor for Russell Westbrook, who had seven in-game sales, including several at the end of the third quarter that put the Suns into a double-digit lead. During the team's film review, Fizdale said there were several clips of Westbrook taking on too much of the burden. "I think the circumstances of the last few games with so many people going in and out made him feel like he had to save us," he said. But mistakes happen when a new group comes together, and while James and Westbrook are still around, the Lakers five-man lineups haven't been spending much time together lately. DeAndre Jordan and Rajon Rondo were recently dusted off the bench, Ariza has just returned from a pre-season injury and Thomas was eliminated from the NBA just a week ago. There's still little cohesion for the Lakers - that has been the case for most of the season, but with more than a third of the schedule in the hunt for playoff positioning, that starts to hurt their bottom line. You could mess it up even more in the days ahead. Fizdale said against the Suns that he was wrong on the side of trusted veterans. But the Lakers also feel they lack the youthful energy they rely on from Austin Reaves and Malik Monk - they could replace that with recent additions Mason Jones and Jemerrio Jones if they feel the need to be shot in the arm. "That's an important part of our roster and you can see when we don't have it," said Fizdale. It's clear we miss it. ”LeBron James can't do it alone as Lakers fall on the Suns Lakers weekly reset: The hits just keep coming There is very little that feels safe in the days to come. ESPN reported that its network, which broadcasts all games on Christmas Day, could potentially reschedule schedules even on December 24th, meaning the Lakers could tip a different time than expected. At the moment, the Nets All-Stars Kevin Durant, James Harden or Kyrie Irving all have their log system - even when the game is running, the star power that the matchup once promised is significantly dampened. Ariza admitted that it was "unfortunate" that the NBA had to contend with so close a banner air day - a day that many players normally look forward to - so close with so much movement. But at 36 he learned to appreciate every moment on the pitch, even the one that doesn't live up to expectations. "You don't know how many games you're going to play, especially at the age we're on our team," he said. So whoever is on the pitch, it's something special. "

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Icardi saves a point for 10-man PSG in Lorient

Mauro Icardi's stoppage-time goal helped ten-man Paris St. Germain save a lucky 1-1 draw with Lorient in a grim performance by the Ligue 1 leaders on Wednesday. (Author: Gardener)

IcardiPARIS, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Mauro Icardi's added-time hit helped ten-man Paris St. Germain save a lucky 1-1 draw with Lorient in a grim performance by the Ligue 1 leaders on Wednesday. Mauricio Pochettino's side, who sent Sergio Ramos off, have 46 points from 19 games, Nice are in second place 13 points behind after a 2-1 comeback win at home against RC Lens. The third-placed Olympique de Marseille, who has a game in hand, is behind Nice due to the goal difference after being caught off guard in the Velodrome in a 1-1 draw against Stade de Reims. Dimitri Payet saved a point with a penalty eight minutes after stoppage time. Stade Rennais are fourth with 31 points after their 2-1 defeat in Monaco. Montpellier cemented their fifth place with a convincing 4-1 home win over midfielder Angers and champions Lille moved up to eighth when Jonathan David's late goal led to a 3-2 win at Girondins de Bordeaux. Lorient's Thomas Monconduit opened the goal against PSG with a great, slightly blocked shot that went into the top corner five minutes before half-time. Ramos, who replaced Nuno Mendes at halftime, was sent off five minutes from the end of the pitch after receiving two yellow cards one night for the capital until Icardi headed in after a cross from Achraf Hakimi two minutes after stoppage time Beheaded home. The result left Lorient second with 16 points, four ahead of St. Etienne, who were beaten 0-1 at home by Nantes.

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PSG vs. Lorient odds, tips and predictions

Analysis of the odds and lines of PSG against Lorient on Wednesday, with Ligue 1 tips and predictions. (Author: Gardener)

LorientOn Wednesday PSG (14 wins, 1 loss, 3 draws) travel to the Stade du Moustoir against Lorient (3-9-6). Lorient odds and lines and make our best Ligue 1 bets, tips and predictions. PSG were able to return to winning ways after two draws in Ligue 1 after a defeat by F Neymar for up to eight weeks at the end of November last time. PSG have scored 38 goals and given up 16 in 18 games. Key D Sergio Ramos could take another break as he is fit again. Lorient has struggled this season and is currently in 19th place. Les Merius have scored 14 goals and given up 30 to 18 games. F. Armand Lauriente, 23, is the key player on Wednesday leading the team with 4 goals. Tipico Sportsbook odds; Access USA TODAY Sports betting odds for a complete list. PSG -220 (bet $ 220 to win $ 100) | Lorient +570 (bet $ 570 to win $ 100) | Draw +370 PLAY: Our new free daily Pick'em Challenge and win! "LEAN" to PSG (-220). PSG are on the way, which is helping to upgrade their moneyline odds, but it's 6-1-2 away and has two of the best strikers in the world who would devastate a vulnerable backline - a backline that scores the fifth most goals in Ligue 1 With the depth in all positions, I would be satisfied with the team that is currently at the top of the table. PSG are 2-0-0 against the other two teams in the bottom three of the table and should win relatively easily. BET on OVER 3.5 (+155) as the best value here. PSG have a dynamite attack and F Lionel Messi should be able to break a weak defense. Lorient have conceded two or more goals in three of the last four league games and are disappointedly beaten 1: 4 against 18th placed Metz. Combine Lorient's poor defense with PSG's deadly attack and PSG's lack of defense with Lorient's reasonably skilled attack and you get a game that should have lots of goals, especially when Ramos is seated. If you're looking for more sports betting tips and tips, access all of our content on SportsbookWire.com and BetFTW. Please play responsibly. Follow @SportsbookWire on Twitter and like us on Facebook. Gannett may earn revenue from Tipico for referring viewers to betting services. Tipico has no influence on this income and is in no way dependent on or connected to the newsrooms or reporting. General terms and conditions can be found on Tipico.com. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (NJ), 1-800-522-4700 (CO), 1-800-BETS-OFF (IA).

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Front runner PSG failed in the late 1-1 draw before the winter break

PARIS (AP) - Runaway Paris Saint-Germain went into the winter break after narrowly avoiding a humiliating defeat when Mauro Icardi's goal saved a 1-1 draw in stoppage time at the ailing Lorient in the French league on Wednesday. (Author: Gardener)

winterPARIS (AP) - Runaway Paris Saint-Germain went into the winter break after narrowly avoiding a humiliating defeat when Mauro Icardi's goal saved a 1-1 draw in stoppage time in the ailing Lorient in the French league on Wednesday. PSG are 13 points ahead of second-placed Nice and third-placed Marseille. Nice beat Lens 2-1, while Marseille needed an even later goal than PSG to make it 1-1 at home against Reims in stoppage time. Nice and Marseille are separated due to the goal difference. The team of coach Mauricio Pochettino was easily exposed by quick attacks and received an alarming 11 shots in the first half against a team in 19th place. Pochettino brought on ex-Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos after the break, but was sent off with a second yellow card five minutes from time. The 10-man PSG stormed forward, right-back Achraf Hakimi covered a great cross from the right and Icardi skilfully headed home in the first minute of stoppage time to compensate for the thunderbolt from Thomas Monconduit towards the end of the first half. Pochettino briefly stopped criticizing another sluggish performance as PSG were again saved by a late goal, as happened against Lens this month. Apart from an early miss by Icardi and a shot on the post by seven-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi, PSG were on their backfoot as Lorient often got behind the defense in the first half. PSG goalkeeper Keylor Navas made several stops, the most important of which was against striker Terem Moffi who could have shot powerfully after a clean run in Moffi 16, but switched feet to try to beat the hugely skilled Navas who stayed upright as long as possible to make a fine parade befitting his status as one of the best in the world. Moffi then teamed up with Enzo Le Fee to prepare Monconduit for a bubbly shot from 20 yards that hit Navas from the bottom of the bar. Navas was out just moments later to keep his team from conceding a second goal, and Paul Nardi made two Messi appearances. Marseille playmaker Dimitri Payet was fouled and shot a penalty in the eighth minute of stoppage time after a lengthy video review after winger Hugo Ekitike gave Reims the lead in the 75th minute. Canada's striker Jonathan David scored the winning goal after defending champions Lille were twice behind before beating 3-2 in Bordeaux to move up to eighth place. Honduras striker Alberth Elis scored the goals from Bordeaux. Winger Martin Terrier continued his good form with a well-made start, but fourth-placed Rennes lost 2-1 at Sixth Monaco, who scored with Wissam Ben Yedder's penalty and Kevin Volland's second-half goal. Clever midfielder Teji Savanier scored the first goal as Montpellier moved up to fifth with a 4-1 home win over midfielder Angers. The league will resume on January 7th when Bordeaux face Marseille in a Friday night game.

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Westbrook presses with exhausted Lakers

Reigning head coach David Fizdale said the Lakers don't need Westbrook to play the changing line-up hero. They just need a steady game from their point guard, he said. (Author: Gardener)

LakersThe Los Angeles Lakers have lost three games in a row, have four players and their head coach in the NBA's health and safety protocols, and are still reeling from news that Anthony Davis is expected to be absent for at least a month with a sprained MCL in his left knee . As the team struggles to weather the vortex of diseases it faces, former league MVP and nine-time all-star Russell Westbrook has taken it upon himself to try to pull them out of it. However, reigning head coach David Fizdale - who is representing Frank Vogel during his recovery from COVID-19 - said the Lakers don't need Westbrook to ride his white horse and play the hero. You just need a steady game from your point guard. "I think the circumstances of the last few games with so many people in and out made him save us," Fizdale said in a video conference call with reporters after training on Wednesday. While Westbrook has averaged 21 points, 9.5 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 2.0 steals in the two games since Davis was injured, he's also had 6.5 turnovers. The ball losses trip the Lakers on both sides, take potential scoring chances on the offensive and put their defense in compromising positions while the opponent attacks in transition. "On some of his pieces, he probably moved too fast or tried to put pressure on when things aren't there," said Fizdale. The guys are very open and receptive and we were just talking about connection things. How can we [get this right?] OK, instead of this game, what can we do within our offensive fundamentals to result in a great shot for us? How do we use your talent that attracts all of these players to make sure this results in a great shot for us? "And that's what the whole film session was about offensively and again a lot of this stuff is connection." Lakers striker Trevor Ariza said Wednesday's video recap was helpful as L.A. tries to correct the wrongs of its last three losses to Minnesota, Chicago and Phoenix in preparation for Thursday's home game against the San Antonio Spurs. "Personally, I just see my distance and things that I can do better, to give our guys more space to help them. Defensively, I have to change some of my techniques, my angles, to get it right, so that I can do a little bit better can be on the defensive end, "said Ariza in a videoconference when asked about the details pointed out in the film. We need that because we don't have a lot of training time. ”And the Lakers don't have much certainty about how the season will go from here. "You just take it and live from day to day, you just don't know what's going to happen," said Carmelo Anthony in a video conference on Wednesday. Again, we don't know what's going to happen, so we take it day to day and just try to keep track of what we need to keep track of. It affects a lot of different people, people who are vaccinated, people who have boosters, so you just don't know what's going to happen. "

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Uncertainty is clouding the Lakers' near future and has had an impact on their game

The team have used smaller lineups out of necessity, but the lack of familiarity between some players is evident and others may push themselves to make mistakes. (Author: Gardener)

It's the old adage: one game at a time. The Lakers are stuck in a three game slide, narrowing their leeway to what is directly in front of them. That's because with the recent outbreak of COVID-19 in the NBA and the league, who knows what's behind it today. The Lakers met on Wednesday to review the movie of Tuesday's loss to the Phoenix Suns and reportedly to prepare for Thursday's game against San Antonio. In their own meeting, they were missing four players (Malik Monk, Avery Bradley, Austin Reaves, and Kent Bazemore), head coach Frank Vogel, and a number of other staff who usually contribute to the meetings. Their Christmas game against the Brooklyn Nets, long considered one of the NBA's regular season banner matches, is in serious jeopardy after the league postponed the Nets' third game in a row. "You take it easy and live by the day, you just don't know what's going to happen," said striker Carmelo Anthony. The NBA has shown its determination to push through this latest surge in positive coronavirus tests, which in December alone (more than 120) dwarfed the total number of players and staff who recorded all of last season's logs. The league has made provisions for teams with significant numbers of staff in protocols like the Lakers, allowing 10-day hardship contracts and an extended period for two-way contract players. The Lakers have apparently stabilized in their roster with no new player cases as of Sunday morning but there is no way to plan when the four players who are still in the logs will be tested. Vogel is also concerned with this question. Interim trainer David Fizdale sends his coaching insights from a distance via Zoom and SMS. Fizdale admitted that he isn't sure whether or not he will lead the Lakers against the Spurs; it depends on how Vogel's tests go. “It's an everyday situation and we won't let ourselves into how unhappy it all is or how disruptive it all is. The team chose smaller lineups out of necessity and played more minutes with LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Trevor Ariza in the middle or in power forward. While center Dwight Howard was technically available on Tuesday night, the Lakers decided to give him a few more days to physically prepare after being banned from the previous week's logs. When Anthony was thrown out on his second technical on Tuesday night, he admitted that he had lost consciousness after feeling an elbow against his ribs while attempting a shot. Although, countered Anthony, maybe there are times the Lakers will need that spark. "The only thing I have is that I let the boys down, I let the team down because I don't, I get kicked out and get into situations like this," he said. Maybe we need that, that kind of fire. We need that kind of energy. I miss this game. ”The decreased depth also changes the way some of the sane Lakers approach the game. Talen Horton-Tucker and Isaiah Thomas won't get together often to go 2 for 24 (0 for 14 from the 3 point range) like they did against Phoenix, but some players inevitably feel under pressure to put more on their shoulders to get the team out of the crisis. This could have been a factor for Russell Westbrook, who had seven in-game sales, including several at the end of the third quarter that put the Suns into a double-digit lead. During the team's film review, Fizdale said there were several clips of Westbrook taking on too much of the burden. "I think the circumstances of the last few games with so many people going in and out made him feel like he had to save us," he said. But mistakes happen when a new group comes together, and while James and Westbrook are still around, the Lakers five-man lineups haven't been spending much time together lately. DeAndre Jordan and Rajon Rondo were recently dusted off the bench, Ariza has just returned from a pre-season injury and Thomas was eliminated from the NBA just a week ago. There's still little cohesion for the Lakers - that has been the case for most of the season, but with more than a third of the schedule in the hunt for playoff positioning, that starts to hurt their bottom line. You could mess it up even more in the days ahead. Fizdale said against the Suns that he was wrong on the side of trusted veterans. But the Lakers also feel they lack the youthful energy they rely on from Austin Reaves and Malik Monk - they could replace that with recent additions Mason Jones and Jemerrio Jones if they feel the need to be shot in the arm. "That's an important part of our roster and you can see when we don't have it," said Fizdale. It's clear we miss it. ”LeBron James can't do it alone as Lakers fall on the Suns Lakers weekly reset: The hits just keep coming There is very little that feels safe in the days to come. ESPN reported that its network, which broadcasts all games on Christmas Day, could potentially reschedule schedules even on December 24th, meaning the Lakers could tip a different time than expected. At the moment, the Nets All-Stars Kevin Durant, James Harden or Kyrie Irving all have their log system - even when the game is running, the star power that the matchup once promised is significantly dampened. Ariza admitted that it was "unfortunate" that the NBA had to contend with so close a banner air day - a day that many players normally look forward to - so close with so much movement. But at 36 he learned to appreciate every moment on the pitch, even the one that doesn't live up to expectations. "You don't know how many games you're going to play, especially at the age we're on our team," he said. So whoever is on the pitch, it's something special. "

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Lakers don't want to guess who they are for much longer

The Lakers can't predict the rest of the season, but time is running out to determine what kind of team they are. (Author: Gardener)

Lakers 'LeBron James reacts after missing a basket at the Staples Center under pressure from Phoenix Suns' Devin Booker in the first half of Tuesday. Lakers interim coach David Fizdale said he hadn't heard anything. All of his meetings and attentions from the coaching staff are aimed straight at San Antonio ahead of Thursday's game. But while in that fog, the NBA canceled the Brooklyn Nets' next game due to a lack of healthy players, a move that could put their Christmas get-together with the Lakers at risk. It's kind of a perfect moment - the team that no one really understands, the Lakers, in a situation where it would be foolish to try to predict something in the future. "You just can't predict what's going to happen and I think that's the part that isn't confusing, but that's the part that is in the air," said Carmelo Anthony. And when you have a stranger to something like this virus that we're dealing with, you just never know what's going to happen day in and day out. ”The Lakers don't know if any of their four players are currently in the Logs are located, is released. They don't know exactly when one of their two coaches, including head coach Frank Vogel, will be back. And they don't know who it will affect next. It's safe to say that the Lakers are most comfortable with 32 games this season that they are uncomfortable with a lot of things. Because of this, LeBron James can defend his team with .500 and 50 games left to play - a slew of injuries, including his own, and trips in and out of the NBA's COVID-19 protection plan that will keep the Lakers from getting out of hand - List ever really stabilized. Can the Lakers really gauge who they are and what they can be at this stage of the season? I mean I don't think so. … We do not know it. … We do not know it. We have no idea what this team can be, ”said a slightly annoyed James after his team was badly beaten on Tuesday. I can't remember the last time we played the same starting XI and had the same rotation from the bench. It was long ago. Perhaps the most critical data point this season is that the Lakers, a team full of oddly seated superstars and old legs, haven't spent much time together on the pitch. How do we know today's twisted ankles and MCL sprains won't be tomorrow's hamstring strains and dislocated shoulders? Lakers 'Isaiah Thomas will be doubled up in the second half on Tuesday at the Staples Center by Phoenix Suns' Mikal Bridges (left) and Jae Crowder (right). The Lakers' continuity and injury issues, with at least 32 games in hindsight, are pretty obvious for a team with a number of new players and a number of older players (or players with a history of injuries) who also happen to be playing in a pandemic. If there is reason to be optimistic, it is because the Lakers are constantly being tested, forced to adjust and look for ways to win. Maybe they'll dig up a player or two on the list as they try to complete their team and reach the depth of rotation that they were struggling to achieve. And maybe they are mentally stronger as a team when they are on the other side of this lazy luck. "We adapt on the fly to what is happening at the moment," said Westbrook on Tuesday. We just have to find ways to win games. For now, we're just trying to find ways to win games. It's probably okay to assume that there will be so many more twists and turns before things settle down. That's kind of a story this season, especially for the Lakers. But the Lakers are running out of time waiting for concrete examples before making big decisions. The trading season is coming soon. The Lakers don't want to guess who they are for much longer. But in a pandemic where you can't even be sure whether you can play or not, certainty is the NBA's scarcest material. "We play tomorrow so you take it back and live by the day," said Anthony on Wednesday. “You just don't know what's going to happen. We could wake up tomorrow morning and they could say our game is canceled tomorrow. And you just don't ... again, we don't know what's going to happen. "

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Uncertainty is clouding the Lakers' near future and has had an impact on their game

The team have used smaller lineups out of necessity, but the lack of familiarity between some players is evident and others may push themselves to make mistakes. (Author: Gardener)

Lakers security guard Russell Westbrook drives to the basket while Devin Booker of Phoenix Suns defends in the first half at the Staples Center on Tuesday night. Westbrook has made 13 sales in the last two games and could be among those trying to bet too much on themselves as the team tackles squad issues from COVID-19 outages and injuries. It's the old adage: one game at a time. The Lakers are stuck in a three game slide, narrowing their leeway to what is directly in front of them. That's because with the recent outbreak of COVID-19 in the NBA and the league, who knows what's behind it today. The Lakers met on Wednesday to review the movie of Tuesday's loss to the Phoenix Suns and reportedly to prepare for Thursday's game against San Antonio. In their own meeting, they were missing four players (Malik Monk, Avery Bradley, Austin Reaves, and Kent Bazemore), head coach Frank Vogel, and a number of other staff who usually contribute to the meetings. Their Christmas game against the Brooklyn Nets, long considered one of the NBA's regular season banner matches, is in serious jeopardy after the league postponed the Nets' third game in a row. "You take it easy and live by the day, you just don't know what's going to happen," said striker Carmelo Anthony. "We could wake up tomorrow morning and they could say our game is canceled tomorrow." The NBA has shown its determination to push through this latest surge in positive coronavirus tests, which in December alone (more than 120) dwarfed the total number of players and staff who recorded all of last season's logs. The league has made provisions for teams with significant numbers of staff in protocols like the Lakers, allowing 10-day hardship contracts and an extended period for two-way contract players. The Lakers have apparently stabilized in their roster with no new player cases as of Sunday morning but there is no way to plan when the four players who are still in the logs will be tested. Vogel is also concerned with this question. Interim trainer David Fizdale sends his coaching insights from a distance via Zoom and SMS. Fizdale admitted that he isn't sure whether or not he will lead the Lakers against the Spurs; it depends on how Vogel's tests go. “It's an everyday situation and we won't let ourselves into how unhappy it all is or how disruptive it all is. The team chose smaller lineups out of necessity and played more minutes with LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Trevor Ariza in the middle or in power forward. While center Dwight Howard was technically available on Tuesday night, the Lakers decided to give him a few more days to physically prepare after being banned from the previous week's logs. When Anthony was thrown out on his second technical on Tuesday night, he admitted that he had lost consciousness after feeling an elbow against his ribs while attempting a shot. Although, countered Anthony, maybe there are times the Lakers will need that spark. "The only thing I have is that I let the boys down, I let the team down because I don't, I get kicked out and get into situations like this," he said. Maybe we need that, that kind of fire. We need that kind of energy. I miss this game. ”The decreased depth also changes the way some of the sane Lakers approach the game. Talen Horton-Tucker and Isaiah Thomas won't get together often to go 2 for 24 (0 for 14 from the 3 point range) like they did against Phoenix, but some players inevitably feel under pressure to put more on their shoulders to get the team out of the crisis. This could have been a factor for Russell Westbrook, who had seven in-game sales, including several at the end of the third quarter that put the Suns into a double-digit lead. During the team's film review, Fizdale said there were several clips of Westbrook taking on too much of the burden. "I think the circumstances of the last few games with so many people going in and out made him feel like he had to save us," he said. But mistakes happen when a new group comes together, and while James and Westbrook are still around, the Lakers five-man lineups haven't been spending much time together lately. DeAndre Jordan and Rajon Rondo were recently dusted off the bench, Ariza has just returned from a pre-season injury and Thomas was eliminated from the NBA just a week ago. There's still little cohesion for the Lakers - that has been the case for most of the season, but with more than a third of the schedule in the hunt for playoff positioning, that starts to hurt their bottom line. Fizdale said against the Suns that he was wrong on the side of trusted veterans. But the Lakers also feel they lack the youthful energy they rely on from Austin Reaves and Malik Monk - they could replace that with recent additions Mason Jones and Jemerrio Jones if they feel the need to be shot in the arm. "That's an important part of our roster and you can see when we don't have it," said Fizdale. It's clear we miss it. ”There is very little in the days to come that feels safe. ESPN reported that its network, which broadcasts all games on Christmas Day, could potentially reschedule schedules even on December 24th, meaning the Lakers could tip a different time than expected. At the moment, the Nets All-Stars Kevin Durant, James Harden or Kyrie Irving all have their log system - even when the game is running, the star power that the matchup once promised is significantly dampened. Ariza admitted that it was "unfortunate" that the NBA had to contend with so close a banner air day - a day that many players normally look forward to - so close with so much movement. But at 36 he learned to appreciate every moment on the pitch, even the one that doesn't live up to expectations. "You don't know how many games you're going to play, especially at the age we're on our team," he said. So whoever is on the pitch, it's something special. "

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Could LA miss the play-in tournament?

The exhausted Lakers, currently on a three-game losing streak, will be without All-Star Anthony Davis for a few more weeks. They could see their play-in chances crumbling in the meantime. (Author: Gardener)

LAYour Los Angeles Lakers have seen better days. When the team decided to go all-in against former all-star point guard Russell Westbrook this summer and surround the team with a few young people with perks and tons of former top veterinarians on minimum salaries, we knew that the team's fate would turn on how the Big Three of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Westbrook would work together. After putting together a three-game winning streak, the Lakers are now on a three-game losing streak. The exhausted Lakers will miss All-Star Big Man Anthony Davis for at least the next four weeks after an MCL sprain sustained during a collision with Minnesota Timberwolves power-forward Jaden McDaniels. With a mediocre 16-16 record, the Lakers are currently seventh seeded in the Western Conference, just 0.5 games behind the five- and six-seeded Denver Nuggets (15-14) and Los Angeles Clippers (16-15). But LA is also only three games to go from the play-in bracket consisting of the seventh through tenth seeds. The Portland Trail Blazers (13-19) and San Antonio Spurs (12-18) are the eleventh and twelfth seeds. Yes, LA is also a few games ahead of the 10th seeded Sacramento Kings, who have a 13-19 record and are currently missing several rotation players as well as their interim head coach due to COVID-19 logs. Let's be honest: The Lakers are a mediocre team at best at the moment. They lose easily to more talented clubs and can sometimes surrender a game or two to terrible clubs. With the loss of Anthony Davis and several key rotation players sidelined due to the NBA's coronavirus health and safety protocols, the team will have to stay afloat for the next several weeks on what is actually a home-heavy schedule. The Lakers will host the budding Spurs and the battered Brooklyn Nets in their next two games, then have a winning street competition against the Houston Rockets and a pretty losing away game against the Memphis Grizzlies before heading back to the (ugh) Crypto. com arena for a home stand for five games. Only one of the teams they'll face in this section, the Grizzlies, has a record of .500 or better at this point. Despite 36-year-old all-star LeBron James' All-NBA play, the rest of the Los Angeles squad are struggling to find much consistency on either side of the ball without AD. The team especially had problems keeping small guards or experienced large guards. The Ghost of Isaiah Thomas plays key minutes and was good for two games, but horrible against the Phoenix Suns last night (he shot a scant 1 of 11 off the field in 25:33 playing time). Los Angeles could absolutely go down in the overall standings despite a somewhat cheap schedule because they're just mediocre. It's hard to imagine that the Lakers could actually fall out of the play-in bracket and miss the NBA postseason entirely if James played over 60 games and Davis played over 50 games. But they're certainly not part of the Western Conference elite, and it's possible the rising spurs behind the standout guard Dejounte Murray's game or the Trail Blazers, once C. This Laker squad's age and injury history has always been an issue, and we see that this is now confirmed. ESPN spinoff site FiveThirtyEight.com estimates the Lakers' chances of reaching the playoffs - not the title, mind you, but the playoffs - at 27% as of this writing. The Lakers have two of the top 20 players in the NBA. Regardless of their other staff, they should be at least the West's tenth seed, although Davis and James' recent injury history could prove to be an undesirable obstacle.

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