The Los Angeles Lakers not only notched an impressive road win against the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day, but they did so with LeBron James missing much of the third quarter and the entire fourth.
James suffered what was diagnosed as a left groin strain on a play when he pushed the ball up the court and slipped. His left foot stretched out awkwardly, and though he managed to pass off to Lonzo Ball and play defense the next trip down, then asked for a timeout.
James attempted to stretch and remain in the game but walked gingerly to the locker room. The Warriors followed that with an 11-0 run to chip into what once grew to a 19-point deficit.
Rather than wilt from the challenging circumstances, the Lakers responded and re-gained control of the game. Following the 127-101 win, Lakers head coach Luke Walton deemed it arguably his team’s best game of the season, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“Really, really happy with the mental effort our group gave. We always talk about getting more consistent and how we can play as close to 48 minutes of gameplan basketball as possible. Coach Mermuys put together a beautiful gameplan, and the players followed it. They were communicating, they were doing the little things. I thought that was probably our most complete game of the season. Good to see. A lot of good moments to build off.”
The Lakers had seven players score in double-figures, including four starters. Among them was Ivica Zubac, who made a third consecutive start because JaVale McGee remained out due to his recovery process from pneumonia.
Rajon Rondo was instrumental to the Lakers remaining afloat and excelling when James went out of the game.
If not Tuesday, the Lakers have recorded encouraging wins against the Portland Trail Blazers and Memphis Grizzlies, which at the time left Walton impressed.