The Lakers added another loss to their record after a big 114-89 loss to the Utah Jazz.
The defeat showed just how much the Lakers miss Anthony Davis, as they had little to offer in terms of resistance in the paint. They also had plenty of problems on the offensive end, due to a lack of another scoring threat beyond LeBron James.
Davis, who is out for at least a few weeks after re-aggravating his Achilles injury after 15 minutes of game time against the Nuggets, is irreplaceable to the Lakers lineup. His 22.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, three assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.8 blocks per game is hard to match, and there’s little.
LeBron James, as great as he still is, can’t carry the Lakers alone. Since Davis went down again in Denver, the Lakers have gone a paltry 1-5, with their only victory coming against a Minnesota Timberwolves squad that are at the bottom of the West with a 7-26 record.
That’s not a knock on James, either. The Lakers are constructed to complement the formidable 1-2 punch of James and Davis, and the offense and defense simply can’t compensate for when the two aren’t around.
With word going around that the Lakers are (correctly) going to be careful with managing Davis’ injury, it’s hard to imagine the slump getting any better for now.
Their schedule isn’t doing them any favors, either. The boys in purple and gold have four more games before the All-Star break, and it’s a tour of the pacific division against the Portland Trail Blazers, Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns, and Sacramento Kings.
Without Davis, the only easy game in that lineup looks to be the Kings, who are back to their struggling ways after getting above .500 a couple of times earlier in the season.
If the Lakers go 1-3 during this period, it’s entirely within the realm of possibility that the Suns leapfrog them and get to third in the standings – seeing as they have a relatively easier schedule against the Bulls, Timberwolves, Lakers, and Warriors. That could be a 3-1 trip for the boys from Phoenix.
There’s a lot of season left to play, and a deep playoff run is the expectation for the defending champs, so resting Davis isn’t a bad idea. Plus, they may not care as much about the first seed, considering that they know how good they are at full strength.
But for now, the pain keeps piling on. Let’s see how James and the rest of the team respond to this adversity.