HOUSTON — The Los Angeles Lakers’ road trip nightmare continued with another injury to a rotation player and another loss — this one in blowout fashion, 128-94 to the Houston Rockets — on Wednesday.
Eight games into the season, LA is 3-5 and 0-3 on a current four-game road trip outside the friendly confines of Crypto.com Arena to drop its record to 0-5. LeBron James He admits that he still doesn’t know what to do with his team.
“I don’t have an assessment,” James said after scoring 18 points in 27 minutes, as coach Darvin Hamm finally found a way to cut the star’s minutes, putting the entire fourth quarter game out of reach.
The end of L.A.’s bench in the fourth quarter — when the Rockets put the finishing touches on a game in which they outscored the Lakers 57-34, fueled by a 24-3 advantage on second-chance points — said it all. Four players — Anthony DavisBecause of the spasms in his left hip was a late scratch; Jackson Hayes, who missed his second straight game with a sprained left ankle; And Jared Vanderbilt (left ankle) and Jalen Hood-Schifino (right knee), both of whom have yet to play this season — sat next to each other in street clothes.
“I mean, we can’t build cohesion if we don’t have units,” James said. “It’s very simple. It’s true, we’re very low on injuries.”
The Lakers are hopeful Davis will play in the road trip finale Friday in Phoenix, sources said, which doubles as the first group-play game of L.A.’s in-season tournament.
But all will not be right back to the star big man. Through eight games, the Lakers have been outscored by 74 points in the first quarter, the worst margin through eight games in NBA history, according to ESPN Stats & Data Research. They’ve also historically been worse from the 3-point line: They’re the first club to shoot fewer than 3s and a worse percentage from 3 than their opponents in their first eight games.
“We’re juggling different situations — guys being in and out of the lineup,” Hamm said. “But at the end of the day, nobody’s going to feel sorry for you, especially when you’re a Los Angeles Laker.”
The Lakers’ implosion naturally prompted the question: What can be done to turn things around for a team that openly talked about championship aspirations during training camp?
“I think we just need to relax and figure out where we’re going to start trending in the right direction,” the Lakers point guard said. D’Angelo Russell said “And I think getting healthy first is one. Two, just playing for each other. I think that’s the first start: having that mindset that we’re going to play for each other and make things easier for each other.”
If there was a silver lining to Wednesday’s game, it was that Rui HashimuraReturned after missing four games due to league concussion protocol. He scored 24 points on 10-for-14 shooting with 8 rebounds off the bench.
But even he had to admit how his rejoining the lineup meant another adjustment period for his teammates.
“Every day, we have different lineups, we play different guys, new guys come in,” Hachimura said. “It’s almost like we have a trade every day, you know?”
The Taurian Princewho gave up the starting forward spot when Vanderbilt suffered an injury in the preseason, admitted he “forgot my guy” while looking around the visitors’ locker room at the Toyota Center. Gabe [Vincent] Wasn’t even here,” referring to another Sideline contributor who didn’t accompany the team on the trip to stay back in L.A. and rehabilitate his swollen left knee.
“So it’s like, putting your mind to what could have been or the pieces that we’re missing — you don’t want to use it as an excuse, but you use it as something that you put in the back of your mind where you just know certain things are a Certain circumstances may differ,” Prince said. “But life doesn’t work that way.”