NBA: Lebron-less Lakers losers once more

Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma attempting a shot over LA Clippers forward Tobias Harris in the game between the in-town rivals at Staples Centre on Friday night. Despite the Lakers enjoying a double-digit lead, the Clippers went on a 22-0 run
Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma attempting a shot over LA Clippers forward Tobias Harris in the game between the in-town rivals at Staples Centre on Friday night. Despite the Lakers enjoying a double-digit lead, the Clippers went on a 22-0 run late in the third quarter to win 118-107.PHOTO: REUTERS

After falling to Sacramento at the buzzer, the team go down to Clippers despite early lead

LOS ANGELES • LeBron James walked into the Staples Centre on Friday night in style, wearing a suit over a hoodie and holding a supposed glass of red wine as he entered the arena.

But there was little cause for a toast after he watched his Los Angeles Lakers teammates crash to their second straight loss without him.

Lou Williams scored a season-high 36 points off the bench, and the Los Angeles Clippers survived early shooting struggles to earn a 118-107 victory over the Lakers in the first meeting of this National Basketball Association (NBA) season between the in-town rivals.

James had injured his groin during Tuesday's big win over the Golden State Warriors and will be out indefinitely. In his absence, the Lakers had lost to the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night, albeit to a buzzer-beating three-pointer.

Coach Luke Walton lamented his players' inability to play as a team without James leading them.

"I felt like we kind of started to splinter a little bit," he said on ESPN of the Clippers' 22-0 run that propelled them to the win.

"That can't happen. We can lose games, but we'll lose them together. When we win them, we'll win them together. No matter what's happening on the court, we have to stay together and keep working and figure it out."

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    Times LeBron James has scored team-high points in the 34 games he has played so far this season.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, James' teams have lost 13 straight games without him.

The Clippers, who entered as the NBA's third-highest scorers, were shooting under 39 per cent at half-time and were just four of 14 from three-point range after three quarters. They were then able to take over with that 22-0 run that started late in the third quarter.

Danilo Gallinari contributed 19 points for the Clippers (21-14). After a slow start, Montrezl Harrell had 12 points. Gallinari and Tobias Harris each added 10 rebounds.

Kyle Kuzma scored 24 points and Lonzo Ball added 19 for the Lakers.

Kuzma agreed with his coach, saying: "Every team has rough patches. And we've been down bodies all year, different line-ups. And we can't let those things affect us.

"It's all about us sticking together and just keeping it like a fist."

The Lakers (20-16) were also without guard Rajon Rondo for the second game in a row. He had surgery to repair ligament damage in his right ring finger and is expected to miss at least a month.

Centre JaVale McGee missed his seventh straight game because of a respiratory infection.

The Clippers have won for the fourth time in five games but their run of at least 125 points in five consecutive games came to an end.

"You could see we just didn't have it offensively and give the Lakers some credit. I thought they prepared for us pretty well," Clippers coach Doc Rivers told the Los Angeles Times. "But Lou pretty much has seen every defence that anyone can throw at him."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 30, 2018, with the headline 'Lebron-less Lakers losers once more'. Print Edition | Subscribe