The month of December has presented LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers with some challenges by playing some of the better teams in the league and providing them with an opportunity to measure themselves against top talent.
Some of the notable games came against the Dallas Mavericks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Minnesota Timberwolves and on Christmas, the Boston Celtics. The Lakers were able to defeat the Thunder this past Saturday, which was a great win, but have otherwise struggled.
In losing 126-115 to the Celtics, it became further evident there is still a gap between the Lakers and the best teams in the NBA. James believes the Lakers are not where they should be and trying to compete with the upper echelon of the league has been impacted by health.
“I think the league’s best teams right now, so far, Minnesota [Timberwolves], they’re pretty much healthy. OKC was pretty much healthy besides [Josh] Giddey. And Boston is fully healthy. I don’t think we’re healthy right now,” James said.
“And I don’t think we’re where we want to be to compete versus the top teams until we continue to get better and better and keep continuing to work on our habits. And for us, we’re still trying to figure our situation out as far as how we want to continue to attack each game. But we’ll be better.”
Despite the team hovering around .500 and struggling since winning the In-Season Tournament, James has seen some positives.
“I don’t know, I think we played some good ball today. I thought AD was obviously was phenomenal. AD has been on a tear lately,” he said. “And I thought offensively we were pretty good. We got some really, really, really good looks that just weren’t able to knock them down. They did a good job of trying to use [Kristaps] Porzingis as a roamer and take away to paint and force us to shoot some threes.
“And we got some great looks from some of our better 3-point shooters, we just weren’t able to knock them down. But I thought defensively, we were pretty good at times. One thing that hurt us versus a team like that, you can’t put them on a free throw line. If you give [Jayson] Tatum those types of free throws, he’s just too elite. You can’t put them on a free throw line, in that third quarter, I believe we was in the penalty against us by probably like the six-minute mark. So that was challenging for us.”
Coming into the season, the Lakers had lofty expectations and were being placed at the top of the Western Conference. However, injuries and inconsistent play on both sides have truly held the team back. L.A. has to find some flow with their offense, as it continues to be a roller coaster from game to game.
James sees the potential of this squad, but it’s about putting it together for a full 48 minutes every night. Three more tests await in the Charlotte Hornets, Timberwolves and New Orleans Pelicans to close out the year, with the latter two being teams that the purple and gold have to beat out in the standings.
LeBron James’ knee sore from collision with Jaylen Brown
The Christmas Day game featured a bit of a scare for both teams as James and Jaylen Brown collided late in the second quarter. James hurt his knee in the incident and after the game admitted it was ‘still a little sore.’
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