While LeBron James was due to be re-evaluated on Friday, the Los Angeles Lakers already knew they would play a ninth game without him as he was not joining the team for their road matchup with the Utah Jazz.
The Lakers entered the night 3-5 without James — and Rajon Rondo — but coming off back-to-back wins. The victories were in some part a result of Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram responding to criticism from Lakers head coach Luke Walton with strong performances.
But with an opportunity to create more separation between themselves and the ninth-place Jazz, the Lakers fell behind early, trailed by as many as 23 points, and suffered a loss to an undermanned team.
Aside from a run in the third quarter, the Lakers reverted to stagnant basketball and were susceptible to breakdowns on defense. Despite the loss, Ingram doesn’t it necessarily view it as regression for the team, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“It’s just a game that we lost. I think in this league you have a chance to redeem yourself and think about the next game. Think about some stuff we can do better in the next game, so we have another chance on Sunday.”
Ingram did his part early to keep the Lakers competitive, scoring 12 points in the third quarter. However, he was one of the many players who had difficulty converting at the basket over Rudy Gobert, and he scored just three points after the first quarter.
With James not due to be examined until Wednesday, he will miss Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Tuesday’s contest with the Chicago Bulls. The games are two the Lakers should still be able to win without James, and arguably are must-wins ahead of a difficult stretch.
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