Carmelo Anthony: Lakers ‘Can’t Control’ Injuries But Still Need To Compete
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Carmelo Anthony has found himself starring on the Los Angeles Lakers in his 19th NBA season as injuries keep sidelining his All-Star teammates early in the 2021-22 campaign.

The Lakers fell 105-90 to the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday, playing without LeBron James, who is nursing his injured abdoman. Meanwhile, Anthony Davis spent just seven minutes on the floor, suffering from an upset stomach and grappling with a sprained thumb.

L.A. ended up losing its second game in a row after a lackluster performance. Even Anthony had an off night, scoring just 12 points and failing to make a single three despite shooting 49.2% from beyond the arc this year.

After the clash, the 37-year-old forward echoed Dwight Howard in calling on the Lakers to show more determination on the floor as they wait for the team’s stars to return to full health.

“I think for the most part tonight we didn’t play basketball,” he said.

“Just go out there and compete. We didn’t play hard. We’ve only played in spurts. Those guys came out hitting on all cylinders in that first half to get that big lead, but it’s going to be like that. This is part of the game.

“You don’t know who’s going to be in there. We can’t control injuries, we can’t control what guys are going through physically. So it is next-man-up. It sounds cliche, but it is what it is. But we still got to go out there and compete.”

However, Anthony didn’t diminish the toll that the early injury wave is taking on the Lakers. Asked how he would evaluate L.A.’s current form, Anthony pointed out the team is yet to play with full personnel this season.

“You guys are going to do that anyway,” he laughed when faced with the request to assess the Lakers’ shape, “but I don’t think you can, to be honest with you, but hey, it is what it is.

“We still go out there, we still play. … But honestly, we really haven’t had a full roster the whole season. Even preseason one game, but as of yet, we haven’t had all our guys out there.

“We think about that. When you are out there on the court, it’s hard to think about.”

Vogel acknowledges Lakers’ defensive vulnerability against star guards

Damian Lillard shined against the Lakers, scoring 25 points to bounce back from a poor four-point performance the night before. L.A. failed to contain the opponents’ star guard again just two days after Shai Gilgeous-Alexander run the show for the Oklahoma City Thunder in their victory over Los Angeles.

Head coach Frank Vogel admitted the Lakers’ vulnerability against talented backcourts is becoming a theme of the 2021-22 season.

“We’re struggling to contain quick, deep-shooting guards with this year’s personnel and the way we like to bring double teams, so we pulled back on it some and those guys took advantage of it,” Vogel said.

“Before we pulled back on it, we weren’t tough enough with our low man and our rotations and we weren’t containing their guards in the trap well enough. So neither one was happening.

“We pulled back into our base coverage and that’s risky against shooters like Dame and CJ [McCollum] and they got going a little bit. At that point, we were down we just tried to junk the game up.”

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