The Los Angeles Lakers are clearly struggling without Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder as they dropped their third straight game due to failing to protect a double-digit lead against the Washington Wizards.
The Lakers’ recent loss is arguably their worst of the season as they allowed the Wizards to comeback from a 17-point deficit and win in overtime. LeBron James led Los Angeles in scoring with 31 points, but also played a team-high 43 minutes.
Without Davis and Schroder, the Lakers have looked lost on offensively and have deferred to James to create on nearly every possession. The 36-year-old’s minutes have understandably risen with the absence of the two starters, but head coach Frank Vogel noted he is still actively looking for ways to get his star more rest.
“We’re always looking for opportunities to make sure we give LeBron appropriate rest,” Vogel said. “After the All-Star break we still don’t know what the schedule looks like, but hopefully they build in some appropriate time for those guys to get their legs under them and get the rest that the guys who aren’t in the All-Star Game are going to get. Like we do all year, we’ll continue to evaluate that on a day-by-day basis.”
With Davis out of the lineup, James has been averaging 37 minutes a game and while he has yet to publicly admit he is tired, it is apparent during games he is running out of gas. Against the Wizards, James either settled for long jumpers or deferred to a teammate to make a play off the bounce.
Vogel previously acknowledged that he is always concerned with James’ minutes, but he has had no choice but to play him in longer stretches to give the Lakers a chance to win.
The likes of Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell have stepped up their play, but Los Angeles needs more production from everyone if they hope to end this current skid.
Vogel non-committal on LeBron playing all 72 games
Despite the shortened offseason, James has played in every game thus far in the 2020-21 season. While it has given him a leg up in the MVP discourse, it is not optimal as the Lakers need to keep him fresh for the playoffs.
When asked if James would play the entire 72-game slate, Vogel did not offer a straight answer.
“We’ll see,” he said. “We’ll continue to evaluate from game to game.”
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