Los Angeles Lakers All-Star LeBron James has done everything in his power to help keep the team afloat without Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder in the lineup.
L.A. nevertheless has lost all three games they’ve been out, and James has begun to look fatigued despite constant reassurance that he isn’t. If three straight losses wasn’t bad enough, the Lakers now have to go on the road to play against the team with the NBA’s best record, the Utah Jazz.
The Jazz are a remarkable 25-6, 3.5 games ahead of the Lakers and L.A. Clippers, who both are 22-10. Utah also is fourth in offensive rating, second in defensive rating to the Lakers, and first in net rating.
The Jazz truly look the part of a contending team, and James warned the Lakers of this after losing to the Washington Wizards. “It’s our next opponent, our next challenge,” James said.
“It’s going to be a helluva challenge. We know that team has been playing extremely well. One of the hottest teams in the NBA, if not the hottest team along with Brooklyn, and also along with Washington if you really want to keep it honest; Washington has won five straight.
“But Utah has been playing extremely well this year, they’ve been moving the ball, sharing the ball, that ball is popping and they’re shooting the hell out of the 3-ball, so we’ve got to be able to cover the 3-point line.”
The 3-ball is one of the defining features of the Jazz’s success so far this season. As a team, they shoot 39.7% from deep, which is good for third in the NBA behind only the Clippers and Brooklyn Nets.
Contrary to what the eye test may say, the Lakers are actually one of the best defensive teams against 3-pointers. L.A. allows the fifth-least attempts per game, the third-least makes, and the seventh-worst percentage.
Much of this is helped by the presence of Schroder, but L.A. definitely has the tools to slow down the Jazz at what they do best. Perhaps James will help motivate the Lakers to play one of their best games to snap the losing streak and begin to turn momentum.
Lakers facing adjustment period without Davis and Schroder
Following the Lakers’ third consecutive loss, head coach Frank Vogel spoke about the learning curve the team is going through as they remain without two of their best players.
“We’re just in an adjustment period,” Vogel said. “It’s tough for me to go back to what the last two games exactly looked like. We just didn’t get the job done tonight. We’re adjusting to some guys being out, we’re doing some good things and just falling a little bit short.
“It’s a long season, our group is remaining together, they’re fighting and we’ll get back to work.”
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