If this is how things are going to go for the Lakers without LeBron James, it could be a long week.
As you know, the Lakers blew their second LeBron-less lead this season to the rebuilding Thunder — only this time, it was at the Staples Center (107-104). In two games, the Lakers have blown a combined 45-point advantage against a Thunder team that has yet to beat anyone else.
You could make the case that both games came without James. He missed the first with a sore ankle. Now, he is expected to miss at least a week with an abdominal strain.
But Carmelo Anthony, for one, isn’t one to make excuses.
“It ain’t come down to LeBron not being there,” Anthony said, via Kyle Goon of the LA Daily News. “We let this one go again. We shouldn’t have lost this one.”
Anthony scored 21 points and has been one of the best offseason additions in the league at this point. So he’s sure not to blame.
But with or without James, the Lakers have not been real consistent after keeping just three players from last season’s team — James, Anthony Davis and Talen Horton-Tucker. Clearly, there is adjustment period with so many new faces.
But at 5-4, the Lakers don’t want to get too far behind in a Western Conference race that is certain to be a fight to the finish.
“We have big-picture patience, and small-picture sense of urgency,” coach Frank Vogel said.
Meanwhile, Davis injured his right thumb in the first half, then returned with a black sleeve covering it. He said after the game it was swollen and he wasn’t able to move it much. It sounds as if his status for Sunday’s game at the Trail Blazers is up in the air.
“We’ll see how it feels,” he said.