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Russell Westbrook is clearly unhappy with a reporter's question after losing the Lakers

He did not take a reporter's question kindly. (Author: Gardener)

The Lakers up and down season continued on Thursday evening. Russell Westbrook had a tough last 30 seconds against the Thunder, who took their second win of the year with 107-104. With around 21 seconds left and the Lakers two behind, Westbrook penetrated the Thunder defense. When he took a step, he lost the ball out of bounds and returned it to Oklahoma City. Luguentz there met with a dunk and thus expanded Thunder's lead. After a three from Carmelo Anthony Dort hit a pair of free throws, giving OKC a 107-104 lead by less than eight seconds. In the obsession that followed, Westbrook called his own number and picked up a controversial three with there on his face. It hit the rear edge of the rim, sealing the Lakers' loss. After the game, Westbrook was asked about those final moments. Don't ask me questions that you know the answers to, ”Westbrook said. “Just watch the game, you see what happened. I lost the ball. Westbrook was second on the team on 27 points in the Lakers defeat but got there with a relatively inefficient 10-of-23 shooting night. For the season, Westbrook averaged 20.2 points, the lowest score since 2009/10, along with 8.4 rebounds and 8.1 assists. He shoots 44.4% out of the field, but only 26.3% out of the three-point range. Even so, his attempt to win the game was no exception: The Lakers fell 5-4 that season. L.A.'s next game is on Saturday against the Trail Blazers.

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It's only 9 games, but Lakers don't look right

Two outright defeats in the rebuilding of Thunder give their fans plenty of cause for concern. (Author: Gardener)

Lakers Guard Russell Westbrook sits on the bench before last week's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Staples Center. Nine games in the season, it's clear there are issues, expected by many, with the way Westbrook fits (or doesn't) into this roster. • Is it too early to panic, I mean, expressing serious concern, Laker fans? If LeBron James can't play, it's obvious that the Lakers are compromised to some extent. But they've now gambled away big first-half leads twice in nine days - 26 points last week in Oklahoma City, 19 on Thursday night at home at Thunder - against a team that hasn't beaten anyone this season. Something significant is missing from this team. I'm not sure what exactly. The bottom line, whether LeBron is playing or not, you don't always lose a huge lead over the team at the bottom of the table when you really have plans to win a championship. • Those who were cautious after the Russell-Westbrook deal and worried about its potential impact on chemistry and / or efficiency on the pitch in an already teeming locker room with alphas might nod their heads. Westbrook's previous minutes have dragged the Lakers down, as colleague Kyle Goon noted in the latest Purple and Bold newsletter that landed in the inboxes on Friday. (And if you're a Lakers fan and haven't signed up yet, what are you waiting for?) • Meanwhile, Chris Paul is back in a storm that wasn't his own creation and may be able to offer some advice to his phoenix at Suns Teammates on ignoring the turmoil. Suns owner Robert Sarver and his organization, as you may have heard, are now under investigation after an ESPN exposé cited allegations made by team workers about racist and misogynistic behavior and a pattern of hostile working conditions. Paul remembers 2014 and the end of Donald Sterling's reign at the Clippers, and the way players handled similarly explosive revelations that came in the middle of a first-round playoff series with the Golden State Warriors. You haven't ignored it, but you have overcome it. • And if you're wondering how regressive owners control teams in leagues whose existence (read: player pool) depends on diversity, it's no secret. If your money is good, the rest of the verification process is done with a feather-light touch. • After Joc Pederson's, um, spicy appearance at Friday's Atlanta Braves' World Series victory celebration - punctuated by the infamous 12-letter profanity on a live mic - think of what LA missed out on when it didn't last fall Dodgers parade. It would have been in the same place with Joc, Walker Buehler (who dropped an F-bomb during an interview at the stadium after the 2018 tie-break against Colorado) and Mayor Eric Garcetti (also salty during the Kings 2014 Stanley Cup celebration) rated at least R. Incidentally, Joc turned down a $ 10 million contract option with the Braves in favor of a $ 2.5 million buyout and is now a free agent. • The Baseball Hall of Fame has announced the nominations for the Early Baseball and Golden Days Era elections for the Hall class of 2022, which will be voted on December 5th on the Early Baseball ballot (pre-1950) and Maury Wills and Dick Allen on the Golden Days ballot (1950-69). SCNG columnist Mark Whicker is a member of the "Golden Days" panel. I don't think campaigning will do anything, do I? • Another name on the Golden Days ballot is Gil Hodges, the first baseman for the Boys of Summer Brooklyn teams. I've always believed that the hall should have a hybrid category for people whose entire oeuvre (in the case of Hodge's game and management) is worth considering rather than an either / or decision. He's who we thought he was. "Wake Up," "Break Culture," and "Witch Hunt" are a pretty good start on the misinformation bingo card. • The Dodgers defeated left-handed Scott Alexander on Friday as part of eliminating seats on their 40-man roster . Anyway, I'm still trying to pin Grover Cleveland Alexander down the family tree so we can say we have at least one Hall of Fame in the family (as opposed to just one Hall of Fame voter). • And before you ask, yes, retired San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey is a Hall of Famer. If I go to the polls five years from now, there will be a tick next to his name on my ballot paper.

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Lakers don't want to attribute another disappointing loss to LeBron James' absence

LBJ was out, but the Lakers weren't going to lose those games. (Author: Gardener)

Thursday night was something Lakers fans got all too familiar with at the start of the season. Los Angeles jumped 8 points into the fourth quarter before the Thunder amassed 35 points to complete their second win of the season. It was the second time the Thunder beat the Lakers this season and the second time they had to come back late to do that. But against a team like Oklahoma City, there's just no excuse for LA losing games. Even without LeBron James in the line-up, the Lakers' pieces should blow the thunder out of the water. It doesn't matter that LeBron isn't there. Melo, for his part, came in and took 21 points from the bench and shot 50 percent from three-point range. The bank outside of Melo only added 15 points in the competition. But no matter how long they go without LeBron, the Lakers must find a way to win. We still have to play basketball. He's an important key to our team, but we still have to play. I don't know how long he'll be out, but we still have to find ways to win basketball games. We can't control whether he plays or not, but what we can control is win basketball games with the guys we have. We have enough pieces to still win. -Anthony Davis The problem is that the Lakers could do without Anthony Davis in the near future.

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Russell Westbrook is clearly unhappy with a reporter's question after losing the Lakers

He did not take the question kindly. (Author: Gardener)

The Lakers up and down season continued on Thursday evening. Russell Westbrook had a tough last 30 seconds against the Thunder, who took their second win of the year with 107-104. With around 21 seconds left and the Lakers two behind, Westbrook penetrated the Thunder defense. When he took a step, he lost the ball out of bounds and returned it to Oklahoma City. Luguentz there met with a dunk and thus expanded Thunder's lead. After a three from Carmelo Anthony Dort hit a pair of free throws, giving OKC a 107-104 lead by less than eight seconds. In the obsession that followed, Westbrook called his own number and picked up a controversial three with there on his face. It hit the rear edge of the rim, sealing the Lakers' loss. After the game, Westbrook was asked about those final moments. Don't ask me questions that you know the answers to, ”Westbrook said. “Just watch the game, you see what happened. I lost the ball. Westbrook was second on the team on 27 points in the Lakers defeat but got there with a relatively inefficient 10-of-23 shooting night. For the season, Westbrook averaged 20.2 points, the lowest score since 2009/10, along with 8.4 rebounds and 8.1 assists. He shoots 44.4% out of the field, but only 26.3% out of the three-point range. Even so, his attempt to win the game was no exception: The Lakers fell 5-4 that season. L.A.'s next game is on Saturday against the Trail Blazers.

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Lakers show inability to close after losing second double-digit lead to Thunder

The Lakers again blew a double-digit lead on the low Thunder. What went wrong at Russell Westbrook and Co.? (Author: Gardener)

The Los Angeles Lakers were on cruise control in the second quarter of their Thursday night outing against Oklahoma City. They had their sunglasses up, the hood down, and rode up, ready to drift off into the LA sunset after building a comfortable 19-point lead mid-quarter. Just six minutes after a deficit of 44:25, the Thunder had pushed themselves back into the race and went into the half-time break with a 52:48 deficit. Despite playing without LeBron James (who also missed the first meeting with OKC), Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, and his crew started the third quarter with a revitalized new energy, extending their lead to eight quarters. Kenrich Williams put his squad one point ahead after slamming home a dynamic dunk five minutes before the end of the game and the Thunder was in control. Davis pulled for a 6-footer to regain the lead for LA with two minutes to go, but Shai Gilgeous-Alexander struck back-to-back free throws with equanimity before Williams reappeared big and a clutch corner 3. downward pointer to restore OKC, 98-95. Carmelo Anthony missed a layup on the Lakers' next attempt, and with just over a minute to go, Gilgeous-Alexander casually walked up the ball, clearing his teammates for an isolation possession and heaving a 3 off the logo for a massive deep bomb. The Lake Show was able to come within one after Anthony hit a Trey for 9.8 seconds remaining, but after Luguenzt wiped home two free throws there, Westbrook was left blank with a potential game-tying 3-pointer to that End game. Westbrook also foregoed crucial sales 21 seconds left to give OKC a slight dunk, just before Melos Big 3. It was a shocking breakdown for the home team, who knew the feeling all too well after taking a 26-point Had lost the lead on OKC last week. And it's especially disheartening for Westbrook, who was thrown out of the first affair between the two after losing his temper and who is seen as a major contributor to the loss the second time around. After the game, Westbrook, visibly frustrated, said, when asked about the late game hiccups, “You saw it. Watch the game, you saw what happened 3. Westbrook left the press conference right after answering the question, "Russell Westbrook is killing the Los Angeles Lakers," Bayless said in the Friday episode of Undisputed was blunt. They also had Anthony Davis, another Hall of Fame player, "Bayless said." There are four Hall of Famers on the floor against an Oklahoma City team that lost six games, won only two, and both [wins] Collapsed from the Lakers. "If you'd told me AD had 29 and 18, Westbrook had 27 points and hit 3-6 3s, Melo hit 5-10 3s and OKC missed eight free throws, I would have looked down and said, 'Hmm, [the Lakers] won when they were 20. ' You had a 19-point lead. " Shannon Sharpe's criticism of the team is on the defensive side of the ball. "That was the same reason, they have lost games before," said Sharpe. "They stopped playing defense. They're building that 19-point lead, just like the [26-point lead in OKC] and suddenly they start taking bad shots, they start turning the ball over And they don't play defense anymore. They have those spells that take them two, three, four minutes without scoring a field goal. "If you build a big head start and go without goals for that long, you'd better be Latch defensively big enough that they can't overcome. "He chooses the very worst time to turn the ball around." but he has plenty of time to turn it around.

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Anthony Davis' sprained thumb didn't help

Even without LeBron James, the Lakers suffered another setback when Anthony Davis sprained his right thumb against the Oklahoma City Thunder. (Author: Gardener)

Anthony Davis played with black tape over his right thumb after sprained that end of the second quarter of the Lakers' loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center Thursday night. Anthony Davis sat down in a hoodie that covered most of his face, black tape covered his sprained right thumb, his voice barely above a whisper when asked how the injury was going in the second half of the Lakers game Affected him Thursday night at the Staples Center. But Davis didn't seem to be playing with the same force after his injury. He had 18 points in 8v13 shooting and 12 rebounds in the first half. In the second half, he only had 11 points and six rebounds. He was asked if he would play for the Lakers in Portland on Saturday night. "I'll see how it feels," said Anthony. Here are five lessons from the Lakers' 107-104 defeat by the Oklahoma City Thunder: Davis was almost unstoppable in the first half against the Thunder and had fired his first seven shots. But at the end of the second quarter, Davis said he hit Shai Gilgeous-Alexander's thigh and "bent back" his thumb. "Really swollen, blood in my fingernail like that, I really couldn't move it," Davis said. "Stay out there and tried to end the game." 2. When asked about his last two plays in the game, Russell Westbrook got prickly. He had flipped the ball 21 seconds before the end and the Lakers had lost 103-101. With the Lakers three behind, Westbrook missed a three-pointer with 3.5 seconds to go. He finished on 27 points, six rebounds and five assists, but the last two plays stood out. So Westbrook was asked what happened to the sales and the threesome. Did the ball slip out of your hands? Has the ball been tipped out of your hand? "You saw it," said Westbrook. Westbrook was told that he was asked to explain how these two pieces developed from his point of view. You see what happened, ”he said. "Ball lost. 3. The Lakers built a 19-point lead in the second quarter and lost anyway. They had a 26-point lead over the Thunder last week in Oklahoma City and lost that game too, another breakdown against a team that only has two wins - both against the Lakers. The Thunder tore apart the Lakers' defenses in fourth place, scoring 35 points, making 52% of his shots and 50% of his threesomes (six out of 12). "We were defensive everywhere," said Davis. Regardless of whether it was a jump shot or was simply passed on to the right guys towards the end. For some reason, this team comes [and] every time they shoot us. Um, like they did in the first game and we want the guys to shoot the ball. But we should still win the game. ”4. Carmelo Anthony tried to put the Lakers on their backs in the fourth quarter and always came out big. His three-pointer, 9.6 seconds behind, pulled the Lakers to 105-104. His three-pointer, 9.6 seconds behind, pulled the Lakers to 105-104. But Anthony didn't manage to get the last three. That was Westbrook - a miss. Anthony finished with 21 points and made half of his 10 threesomes. 5. The Lakers had lost their three-game winning streak and are now 5-4.

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Anthony Davis on the Lakers with no trace; gives update to the thumb

Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis shared how the team needs to improve lead retention, as well as an update on his thumb injury. (Author: Gardener)

Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis was visibly frustrated after losing to Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday, which marked the second game in a row against the Thunder in which L.A. lost and lost a strong double-digit lead. The Lakers only built a 26-point lead last week, but lost it in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. A. caught fire from deep in the second quarter but broke apart in five minutes in the fourth quarter, losing 107 to 104. Davis, who had a strong start to the game when he made his first seven shots in the opening stages, discussed after the defeat, how the Lakers must better manage their leadership. “I think our biggest thing is just keeping leads, and that's kind of our M O since I've been here,” said Davis. “We have no problem building leads, 10, 20, 30 point leads, that's how you play with them. Davis went on to say that alongside the Thunder it has become a trend against recent opponents like the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Houston Rockets. “Especially with this team, I think we were 19 and they'll come back and win the game, and it's similar up there. We even had the same thing against Cleveland, Houston. We won those games, but we have to do our job better to keep shooting basketball and keep getting stops, ”said Davis. "We know the teams are going to make runs, it's a game of runs, but we have to do better to play with the lead and keep playing right." Davis, who lost 29 points, 18 rebounds and five assists, also injured his thumb towards the end of the second quarter when he jumped on the ball with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

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LeBron James' injury update, praise for Russell Westbrook and more

It's been an odd start to the 2021-22 NBA season for the Los Angeles Lakers. There were a few muscle movements along the way that goes to show why so many liked this club to get away from the Western Conference ... (Author: Gardener)

Lakers News: LeBron James' Injury Update, Praise for Russell Westbrook, and More It's been an odd start to the 2021-22 NBA season for the Los Angeles Lakers. There were more injury issues, which was likely to be expected given the overall age of this squad. However, the injury virus has hit their young players the hardest. There have been more wins than losses, so things could get worse. But there were also two losses to the humble Oklahoma City Thunder, so it could be a lot better. Let's dive into the latest news item from Laker Land for much of his 19-year career, but it's showing up to bother the 36-year-old more and more. The 2021/22 season is barely two weeks old, but it is already on the injury report for the second time. This time an abdominal strain could put him out of action for longer. ESPN's Dave McMenamin reported that James is expected to miss "at least a week" with the injury as medical staff "want to take their time" with the recovery process. Lakers manager Frank Vogel would not confirm James' return plan, but was optimistic that the four-time MVP would not be out long. He missed 22 games in his first season as Laker and they missed the playoffs. He lost 27 games to injury last season and L.A. lost in the opening round. In between was the 2019-20 season, when he played all but four games and the Lakers won their 17th world title 16: 5 in the playoffs. James liked what he saw of Russell Westbrook - and not just this season. While James credits Westbrook with "being himself for the past few weeks," James nonchalantly referred to Westbrook as "the most explosive point guard in NBA history" before saying his teammate and Derrick Rose share the label. The most important thing here for the Lakers is Westbrooks present, and James is right. Despite changing conferences and changing All-Star running mates this season (he played with Bradley Beal in Washington in 2020-21), Westbrook's numbers haven't changed much. He averaged 22.2 points last season at 43.9 percent shooting with 11.7 assists and 11.5 rebounds. Well, those numbers are 20.2, 44.4, 8.1 and 8.4, respectively. The most interesting angle is James' assessment of Westbrook and Rose - who likely both played by his side. Still, a rose bursting in Prime Westbrook and from injury had popped and bounced like this game had never seen from any position. After the Portland Trail Blazers were knocked out of the first round for the fourth time in five years, Damian Lillard was restless this summer. He wasn't sure if the only NBA franchise he knew still suited him. He met James at a WNBA game and was later invited to James' house. The next day Lillard arrived and had lunch with both James and Anthony Davis and discussed, among other things, how the three of them could work together in LA, "Lillard told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. I told him, 'I know if I played with all of you I know it would work out based on my abilities' and who I am and who they are Meeting as a recruiting presentation, but the 90 minute chat it was almost certainly the place for him. Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest sports news straight to your inbox!

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Can LeBron James and "really flawed" Lakers shake off concerns? NBA insiders comment on the disappointing start

"That old LeBron is either gone or almost gone in terms of durability and reliability," said a manager (Author: Gardener)

What exactly should we think of the Los Angeles Lakers? LeBron James is already injured, with an abdominal strain for at least a week. Carmelo Anthony looked sharp and reinforcements will arrive as other Lakers recover from various injuries. But Russell Westbrook's addition looks ill-conceived, multiple NBA league sources have raised concerns about the team's overall performance, and there's a level of mediocrity that characterizes their play. After Los Angeles lost a 19-point lead and lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder for the second time, Los Angeles was 5-4 on a pedestrian. In the NBA, the opinions of executives, scouts, former players, and those who have worked and moved in LeBron's orbit are divided. "I still trust LeBron to find out." They'll be fine. "It's worth remembering the number of times it seemed like heaven was falling on a LeBron James team at the time - this one too - thought things were bad. That team was playing In 2014, LeBron's first year in Cleveland, the Cavs started with 6-7 and were under .500 team in mid-January. They also reached the NBA final that season, with one won by LeBron and Anthony just a calendar year ago -Davis led Lakers team an NBA championship. So this is happening again - a mass overreaction to the inevitability of LeBron James fixing everything in the playoffs? Or has he and the Lakers reached a turning point that is the end of the King's time Signaled at the top of the NBA's pecking order, “To get a feel for what the larger NBA” community thinks, CBS Sports has worked with more than a dozen executives, scouts, former players, and those who've worked with LeBron ben, spoken of eBron-and-the-Lakers standards. They are badly put together as a team. As he always did, LeBron brought a few guys he wanted to play with instead of the ones he should play with. Rob (Pelinka) didn't put this team together, LeBron did. And I'm not sure if he can make up for that. Estimated end of the Western Conference: "Middle of the field. You will disappoint." Estimated postseason run: "They are really flawed, but the west may not be as tough as last year." They are not as good as we thought they would be. Maybe he'll be like Tom Brady, but I don't think so. I think we’ll see it now. LeBron has gotten old. LeBron has gotten old. That old LeBron in terms of durability and reliability is either gone or almost gone. That old LeBron in terms of durability and reliability is either gone or almost gone. There's no way he'll be able to wear this team in the regular season, and they need that. And I don't know if he can wear them in the playoffs. These comments, which preceded Thursday's news that LeBron was going to miss time with an abdominal injury, echoed what others said: That LeBron's breathtaking run of durability might, just maybe, finally give way to his age when he turns 37 Birthday is approaching. Another former manager who has worked for a LeBron James team in the past said, “I can see this man. Injuries - you're no longer immune from guys, the formula of putting a bunch of shooters around him no longer works. If I don't have to go to guard LeBron to help because he's guardable, then that approach of shooters around him won't work anymore. "Both sources doubted the Lakers would finish at the top of the Western Conference or make it to the NBA Finals." What do I think of them? Less than I thought when I went in. My mind has changed a bit, but in the long run I still trust LeBron to find out - if he's fully invested. But I think their cap is a lot lower than me. "Thought it could be. That is backed up by the fact that no one in the west has looked this good in the long run. Yes, Utah looked really good, but we did I've seen it at Utah and I'd do it anyway. Take the Lakers on a series about Utah. What will Jamal (Murray) look like in the playoffs? The Russ-Fit early results and returns aren't great and those concerns have turned out to be Well-founded. But LeBron is the best problem solver ... in the history of the league. " Probable post-season run: "I would be surprised if they made it to the final of the Western Conference. But here, too, it's LeBron." But it's LeBron again. "But it's LeBron again." "It's a tough job because in my heart, only from experience, when you put LeBron with a bunch of great players, even if it doesn't look great, it works. I'm a huge Russ fan too. I think that what he does can be incorporated into a formula for success. You don't play the way you have to play to have a player like Russ on the team and to have him effectively. Twenty games is the right barometer (for judging a team) but I see offensive, and especially defensive, signs of why there are reasons for real concern. They don't look like anyone is scared of them, and that's a problem for LeBron, because he's still great, but he can not be the LeBron for 98 games. Not anymore. And I love Russ - I love him - but it doesn't work. Estimated postseason run: "Second round. I think, however, that they are built to somehow find a way to get there to get in, and then it's a recalibration in a seven game series, and things slow down and all the BS that happens in the playoffs - the calls, the benefit of the doubts LeBron is going to get from the officials, the pressure, that he's shown to be able to handle - and it's hard to bet against them. "

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The absence of LeBron James shouldn't bother Lakers that much

If the Lakers can't beat the Thunder without LeBron James, how are they going to thrive in the long run without him? (Author: Gardener)

LOS ANGELES - In a dismissive tone, Russell Westbrook declined to call a pricey take, and missed 3-pointers which played a key factor in the Lakers' 107-104 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Staples Center on Thursday. "Don't ask me a question that you know the answers to," Westbrook said. . @ russwest44 (27 PTS, 6 REB, 5 AST) on his game and some of the adjustments made so far this season. pic.twitter.com/J8WRHHFaOC In a calm tone, Anthony Davis expressed confidence in his sprained right thumb, even though it remained taped. For the second time last week, the Lakers (5-4) lost a double-digit lead over a newly formed Thunder team (2-6), which only conceded victories this season because of the encounter with the Lakers. Perhaps the Lakers wouldn't have gambled away a 19-point lead over the Thunder on Thursday if LeBron James hadn't suffered an abdominal strain towards the end of the Houston win on Tuesday. Perhaps the Lakers wouldn't have wasted a 26-point cushion last week in Oklahoma if James hadn't missed a second straight game with a sprained right ankle. However, that completely misses the point. The Lakers shouldn't need James to babysit a veteran-laden team of All-Stars to make sure they don't waste a double-digit lead on a team destined for the NBA draft lottery. "He's a big key to our team, but we still have to play," said Davis. “We still have to find ways to win basketball games. We cannot control whether he plays or not. But what we can control is go out there and win basketball games with the guys we have. We have enough stones to still win basketball games, although with what we're doing he brings in a huge chunk on both ends of the floor. ”Yes, the Lakers should have enough stones to win games. Westbrook (27 points, six rebounds, five assists) can still score triple doubles. Davis (29 points, 18 rebounds, two blocks) can still dominate inside. Carmelo Anthony (21) can still score almost anytime, even on the bench. Nonetheless, the Lakers also have some serious flaws. You have 12 new players who have not yet got used to playing with and without James. You've nursed major wing injuries (Trevor Ariza, Talen-Horton Tucker) all season and just rolled one against Oklahoma City (Wayne Ellington). The Lakers have a learning curve regarding the defensive systems coached by Frank Vogel, a cornerstone that only ensured an NBA title run two years ago. Without James (San Antonio), the Lakers barely scored a win against another rebuilding team. Even when James was healthy, the Lakers barely got two wins against another rebuilding team (Houston). We're fine, ”said Anthony. “It hurts to lose the same way to the same team twice in a week. But games we're supposed to win this way, we should win. ”If the Lakers can't beat a recovery team a second time without James, how can they ever make up for his season-long absence? With James expected to miss at least another week with his recent injury, how can the Lakers expect to win in Portland on Saturday, followed by a homestand with playoff teams in Charlotte, Miami and Chicago? In theory, as the season progresses, the Lakers' chemistry will improve as they play more games, lose their learning curve, and remove injured players from the coaching room. Just like winning an NBA title (2020) and bursting into flames in the first round (2021), the Lakers' championship fortunes will largely depend on James ‘health. Fortunately for the Lakers, they don't expect James' injury to be serious. "Every time LeBron goes down and is going to miss some time, there are obviously concerns," said Vogel. But even if the Lakers claim that James 'latest injury has no correlation to his injured left groin in 2017-18 and his high right ankle sprain (2020-21), the Lakers plan to be careful with James' 36-year-old body to stay. Hence, it seems inevitable that the Lakers will have to learn to handle parts of the regular season without James. We let this go. "@Carmeloanthony spoke after the game after taking 21 points in today's defeat. A dependable shooter and defender (Kentavious Caldwell-Pope) and a number 22 on the Washington Wizards for having moments like the Lakers believed in Westbrook's worth where we don't have LeBron or AD better than last year, "Vogel said. However, one of the reasons the Lakers lost to Oklahoma City twice hints at Westbrook's inability to avoid himself. Last week, Westbrook made 10 turnovers and became an emotional wreck both as the Lakers lost a double-digit lead and as Thunder striker Darius Bazley tossed a dunk over the past few seasons. Westbrook had shown some incremental progress in reducing his turnover while maintaining his aggressiveness. With 21 seconds remaining, Westbrook sprinted after a fast break, only to lose control of the ball as it drove to the basket. On the next move, Westbrook helped out too far and left Lu there open for an undisputed dunk. And then, on the final possession, Westbrook drove to a contested 3-pointer, which led Vogel to admit that "we wanted a better shot." If the distance from Westbrook had been better, Anthony might have been open to a 3 as Vogel had hoped. “We were defensive everywhere.” @ AntDavis23 about the defensive coverages of the #Lakers, playing without LeBron and an update on his thumb. pic.twitter.com/eVahoUSd6h It's that simple, ”said Westbrook. "There's really not much you can do about it other than figuring out how best to play for the team and how to be most effective." Granted, the Lakers' woes don't fall entirely on Westbrook. The Lakers missed nine shots in a row, including four from Reserve Rondo Rajon, during a five-minute stretch with no Davis and Westbrook on the ground. Despite Davis's insistence on feeling good about himself, one can't help but wonder if his injured thumb had a negative impact on both his second-half game and his availability for Saturday's game in Portland. But Anthony and Davis seem to thrive on offense mostly because of their talent, unlike any playmaker Westbrook has offered. Despite all of the understandable learning curves Westbrook had to play with James, Westbrook had the opportunity to revert to a more comfortable role without him. "We have to continue to learn what we ask of it in our system," said Vogel. If only Westbrook could have done that twice more precisely against Oklahoma City last week. Instead, they are left with questions about when and if Westbrook will be the player they envisioned and will help them especially when James has to sit on the bench. Mark Medina is a senior writer / analyst at NBA.com. You can email him here, find his archive here, and follow him on Twitter.

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