The Los Angeles Lakers’ misfortunes of the 2021-22 season continue as LeBron James unexpectedly tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) ahead of the Tuesday clash with the Sacramento Kings.
James entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, ruling him out of the 117-92 win. The four-time NBA champion could spend more than 10 days on the sidelines unless he tests negative twice within 24 hours.
Anthony Davis said the upsetting news caught the Lakers by surprise, but they still had enough time to prepare for their leader’s absence.
“It was something that was unexpected, for sure,” Davis said. “Found out this morning. Did more testing and we didn’t really hear anything afterward, woke up from a nap and any media outlet that covers anything had it on and said that he was in the health and safety protocols.
“So it wasn’t like a shocker for us, I’ll just say we can’t catch a break. We’re getting guys out and then he’s out for however many days, we don’t know, it all depends on his situation.
Davis praised the Lakers’ role players for stepping up against the Kings amid James’ unavailability. The 28-year-old added his All-Star teammate said he “was good” and didn’t show COVID-19 symptoms when Davis checked on him following the diagnosis.
“I talked to him today,” Davis said after the win over the Kings. “Obviously, me and LB are close, and I checked on him. Just hearing what Joel Embiid said, obviously he was scared and said he thought he wasn’t gonna make it. COVID is a scary thing, especially with all the variants coming out and all that.
“He said he’s good, I think he said he’s asymptomatic, which is a good sign. But we want to make sure that he gets back. Health is most important. It’s bigger than basketball, he has a family. We want to make sure that he’s good no matter what. This basketball thing is gonna stop and we want to make sure that his health is most important, especially for our organization.
“He’s a part of our family and we want to make sure he’s good for his sake, for his family’s sake. So like I said, he seemed to be fine, and I know he’s watching basketball, he’s excited so the win will probably help him fight this off as well.”
Davis explained transition defense inspired Lakers’ second-half rush
The Lakers outscored Sacramento 67-33 in the second half of the game, pulling off an impressive turnaround after they fell 14 points behind the Kings earlier in the game.
Davis said L.A. focused on improving transition defense after the break, which led to a dominant second-half performance.
“Getting back in transition and building a defensive presence,” he said. “We knew it was tougher for them to score on us in the half-court, a lot of their stuff came in transition, cross-matchups, leaving guys open, fouling, things like that. So at halftime, we had a conversation about the team that we want to be.
“We got to buckle down on the defensive end and we were able to do that, holding them to 15 and 18 [in the third and fourth quarters]. Those were great defensive quarters, great defensive dominance. That’s the way we got to start the games though. If we start the games with that defensive presence, we’ll be a very good team.”
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