When the schedule for the 2018-19 NBA season was released, what immediately jumped out were the number of tough matchups LeBron James and the new-look Los Angeles Lakers faced in the early going. That’s been on full display through the first three games.
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While the Lakers are still working to develop chemistry, which has been thrown off course a bit with the suspensions Brandon Ingram and Rajon Rondo, they’ve had to face the Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs.
They’ve remained competitive but suffered losses in each game. On Monday they ripped off an 8-0 run to send the game into overtime. L.A. was seemingly in control but the Spurs closed overtime with a 7-0 spurt to pull out a 143-142 victory.
“We’re going to continue to get better. We had our chances,” James said following the loss. He overcame a slow start to finish with 32 points, 8 rebounds and 14 assists.
James knocked down a game-tying three-pointer from well behind the arc with less than three seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. However, with a chance to provide the Lakers with some breathing room, he missed two free throws.
That was part of a rough stretch in which they coughed up a lead. “We were up six with less than a minute to go. Just couldn’t get a stop, and we had a turnover in that minute, Rudy hit a big shot. I missed two free throws, which is unacceptable,” James said.
San Antonio called timeout following his pair of misses at the stripe. A play for Patty Mills worked to perfection as he came off a LaMarcus Aldridge screen to knock down a go-ahead jump shot. The Lakers nonetheless were left with time on the clock.
James shot a step-back jumper from the left side, which was off target. “They made a shot and I missed a shot,” he said very matter of factly.
The Lakers’ 0-3 start to a season is their worst since opening 0-4 in 2016.