After their blowout 108-90 loss to the reigning Western Conference Champions, the Lakers are back at .500 with a 16-16 record through 32 games.
This is their third straight loss and comes on the heels of three consecutive wins, a testament to their inconsistency this season where they have not won or lost more than three games in a row.
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A huge reason for the up-and-down nature of their 2021-22 campaign so far has been injuries or player absences, either due to protocols or suspensions. The team has not been fully healthy at any point this season, thus being forced to field 17 different starting line-ups through just the first nine weeks of the season.
And against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night, things could have gotten far worse. Midway through the third quarter, LeBron James landed on Jae Crowder’s foot and seemed to have injured his ankle badly. Staying down for a while, he even smacked the floor probably in frustration.
Fortunately, for the Lakers, he seemed alright after tightening the laces on his left shoe and played nine more minutes in the game.
“I’ll be ready for next game,” James said postgame as he downplayed any major concerns regarding his ankle.
The four-time former league MVP scored a game-high 34 points on an incredible 13-of-19 shooting from the field but he had no help.
Although Russell Westbrook finished with 22 points, the role player quartet of Talen Horton-Tucker, Carmelo Anthony, Isaiah Thomas and Wayne Ellington scored a combined 16 points on a combined 5-of-35 from the field including 2-of-22 from beyond the arc.
Until James is on the floor, the Lakers will always be in contention for a victory irrespective of their opponent.
The team’s next opponent is the San Antonio Spurs, who the Lakers host after a day off. Following that game is the Christmas Day marquee contest against the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday.