LeBron James mentioned the Lakers have “zero room for error” after they once more fumbled and stumbled down the stretch and have been simply ok Wednesday to lose a detailed sport to Sacramento.
“I thought we played pretty good basketball,” he mentioned.
But “pretty good” didn’t get it carried out of their 116-111 loss to the Kings at Crypto.com Arena, their third residence loss since final Thursday, these defeats coming by a complete of 10 factors.
It was a too-familiar script Wednesday: begin — a season-best first-quarter manufacturing of 39 factors — lapses that put them behind, a rally that brings them shut or forward, however no remaining flourish to carry them over the end line.
It has change into tiresome, and it’s getting perilous because the Lakers push deeper into a tricky portion of a schedule that Friday has them at residence going through the Memphis Grizzlies, who’ve an 11-game profitable streak.
Coach Darvin Ham famous the rising sense of urgency for his workforce, now 20-25 and nonetheless outdoors the highest 10 and a spot within the NBA’s contrived play-in event.
“We’ve got 37 games left to play to try to get things right,” he mentioned. “We just can’t keep thinking, ‘OK, we can do it the first week of February or the first week of March.’ No. It has to start now. We’re gonna pick ourselves up. Refill our cups. Look at it and see what we did well and try to sustain that. And see what we didn’t do so well and try to correct that.”
The Lakers’ entrance workplace must be feeling the identical sense of urgency with time rising quick earlier than the NBA commerce deadline hits Feb. 9. So far, they’ve waited to gauge the market and have held on to their greatest chips, their 2027 and 2029 first-round draft picks. If there’s a deal that can make a major sufficient distinction and fill sufficient holes to get this workforce into the play-in or the playoffs, that transfer should come quickly.
The Lakers gave a couple of thrills to the gang Wednesday — their twelfth nonsellout determine in 22 residence video games — however they couldn’t match up nicely sufficient in opposition to the dynamic Kings whereas Anthony Davis, Austin Reaves and Lonnie Walker IV continued to get better from accidents. Davis, the important thing absentee, has been doing more and more intense exercises as he recovers from a proper foot stress damage, Ham mentioned, however there’s no timetable for his return.
“We just have to get whole,” Ham mentioned. “And I think we’ve competed our butts off in every single game, except maybe a couple that got away from us a little bit, but a lot of that is because of who’s not and who is in our lineup for that particular night.”
The Lakers turned the ball over seven occasions, follow-up to their two-turnover effort in beating bottom-dwelling Houston on Monday. But that they had too many empty possessions within the fourth quarter and made too many fundamental defensive errors to beat the Kings, who didn’t have ailing heart Domantas Sabonis however received 31 factors from De’Aaron Fox and double-figure scoring from each starter.
“We don’t have much room for error. We are limited with bodies,” James mentioned after a 32-point, eight-rebound, nine-assist efficiency that additionally included one steal and one block.
When will LeBron James change into NBA’s all-time main scorer?
A take a look at LeBron James’ pursuit of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the all-time scoring file.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar factors: 38,387
LeBron James factors: 38,104
Points from file: 284 factors
Projected video games till file: 11
Projected file date: Feb. 9 vs. Bucks
It was his seventeenth sport this season with 30 or extra factors and the 526th of his profession, however he was one for seven from the sector within the fourth quarter, lacking all three of his three-point makes an attempt. He performed 37 minutes in his third sport in 4 nights. He has performed at an unimaginable stage, however he’s not immortal.
Ham mentioned he acknowledges he can’t run James “into the ground,” however Ham can’t resist the temptation to maintain James on the ground. “It is a concern and my staff and I, we talk about it all the time,” Ham mentioned. “It’s tough, man, because he’s such a competitor and we’re in these games and he wants to win. We want to win. So you kind of lose sight of the minutes until you come back and see the stat sheet after the game and you’re like, ‘Oh, hell.’ ”
James’ health and preparation are legendary, however he has been carrying too heavy a load for too lengthy. “No matter the fatigue, no matter what’s going on with me personally, as far as bumps and bruises and fatigue, whatever, my job is to go out there and still perform at a high level, and try to put us in position to win a ballgame,” he mentioned. “And I feel like we did that tonight again, we just came up short.”
They performed nicely sufficient to lose. Again.
“It’s not going to beat us down. We’re not going to let that happen. We take our licks and we keep pushing forward and try to learn from them and keep our spirits high,” Ham mentioned. “That’s our foundation. No matter what happens, we have to remain competitive, we have to remain together, and we have to hold ourselves accountable in terms of what we can do better, what we’ve done good, sustain that and correct the lessons.
“I feel disappointed, but I’m never discouraged when we fight the way we fight and we give ourselves a chance. Those [injured] guys come back into the fold, we’ll go through our process of working them back into the lineup and balance it out and see which rotation is going to be our best course of action and take it from there.”
One factor is evident: There’s no extra time for “pretty good.”