James not daunted by Lakers' 0-3 start

Los Angeles' Kyle Kuzma scoring past San Antonio's Pau Gasol during Monday's National Basketball Association game at the Staples Centre. The Lakers lost 143-142 to the Spurs in overtime even after Kuzma scored a team-high 37 points and new star LeBro
Los Angeles' Kyle Kuzma scoring past San Antonio's Pau Gasol during Monday's National Basketball Association game at the Staples Centre. The Lakers lost 143-142 to the Spurs in overtime even after Kuzma scored a team-high 37 points and new star LeBron James contributed 32.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

After missing 2 crucial free throws, he insists it is a 'long process' before team find their feet

LOS ANGELES • Despite claiming that his bid to turn around the Los Angeles Lakers was "a process", this was probably not what LeBron James envisioned for the start of this National Basketball Association (NBA) season.

From the Portland Trail Blazers extending their 16-game winning run, to the wild brawl with the Houston Rockets which marred his home debut, and going from hero to villain in the Lakers' 143-142 overtime loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Monday, he simply cannot catch a break.

It could have turned out differently for the 14-time All-Star, who looked poised to lead the Lakers to their first regular-season victory after charging into a 141-136 lead with 55 seconds of overtime remaining.

The Spurs had other ideas though and when James missed two free throws that would have given the Lakers a three-point lead, Patty Mills drained a jump shot with seven seconds left to snatch the victory at the Staples Centre.

The defeat left James reflecting on his first 0-3 start to the season since his second NBA campaign with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2004-05.

Ominously, that Cavs team did not make the play-offs, which the Lakers are trying to do for the first time since 2013, but James remains unfazed by the task at hand.

"I know what I got myself into," the three-time NBA champion told reporters.

PATIENCE IS KEY

I know what I got myself into. We'll be fine. I didn't come here thinking we were going to be blazing storms right out the gate. We're going to continue to get better.

LEBRON JAMES, LA Lakers forward, on his first 0-3 start to the season since his second NBA campaign with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2004-05.

"We'll be fine. I didn't come here thinking we were going to be blazing storms right out the gate.

"We're going to continue to get better. I like the direction we're going in. Obviously, we haven't got the results or the wins yet, but it's a long process."

He had earlier raised the roof with a game-tying three-pointer to force overtime and finished with 32 points, behind teammate Kyle Kuzma, who had 37.

San Antonio were paced by 37 points from LaMarcus Aldridge and 32 from DeMar DeRozan.

Lakers coach Luke Walton felt his team could still take positives despite disappointing their home fans again.

"Overall, very pleased with our guys tonight," he said. "Obviously it's about winning and losing at the end of the day. It's a tough one to take, but we'll be back in the gym tomorrow doing it all over again."

The Lakers will attempt to get their season back on track when they travel to Phoenix today.

Another strong showing from James against the Suns, who according to NBA.com were bottom of the league in both offensive and defensive efficiency last season, should help to get the Lakers off to their first win.

So long as they keep James, who called his two botched free throws "unacceptable", away from the line in crunch time as he has a tendency to choke then.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, the forward is 10 of 21 (48 per cent) on free throws in the final 15 seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime since the start of last season - the worst percentage of any NBA player.

Elsewhere, league champions Golden State Warriors improved to 3-1 after a 123-103 demolition of the Suns in Oakland, with 29 points from top scorer Stephen Curry.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2018, with the headline 'James not daunted by Lakers' 0-3 start'. Print Edition | Subscribe