Lakers fall under .500 in LeBron James' return from harm – No stage of panic, however 'must be some sense of urgency' – ESPN

BOSTON — LeBron James‘ return from an prolonged absence could not treatment the inconsistent play that has plagued his group on each ends and was on full show within the Los Angeles Lakers130-108 loss to the Boston Celtics on Friday.
The defeat dropped L.A. — one of many oddsmakers’ favorites to win the championship — to 8-9 with greater than a fifth of the season within the books.
«It is by no means, ‘We bought 65 video games left,'» James mentioned when requested if he can take the lengthy view contemplating the Lakers’ early accidents and the way a lot of the 82-game regular-season slate stays. «We rattling certain have to play higher, regardless of who’s within the lineup. We have now our system and we have to clearly fast-track it and get higher with it so we will play, regardless of who’s out on the ground, we will play at a excessive stage. … There isn’t any stage of panic. However there must be some sense of urgency anytime we take the ground.»
James performed for the primary time in 2½ weeks due to an stomach pressure and confirmed indicators of his outdated self, registering 23 factors on 10-for-16 taking pictures, six rebounds, two assists and two steals, however solely three of his shot makes an attempt got here within the paint, which might be seen as an indication of the warning the 19-year veteran performed with, coping with his third vital harm prior to now 4 seasons.
«Bodily I felt OK and ok to know that I can belief my physique and get out and play tonight,» James mentioned. «So, I am extra wanting ahead to seeing how I am feeling tomorrow after I get up. That’s the telltale signal if I am shifting in the appropriate path with my harm.»
Who is aware of what path the Lakers are headed, nevertheless.
Boston outrebounded L.A. 51-33 regardless of beginning heart Robert Williams III (averaging a team-best 9.2 rebounds per sport) out of the lineup.
«I imply … rebound,» mentioned Russell Westbrook. «Ain’t an excessive amount of you are able to do about it. Simply go get the ball. … easy as that.»
And the Lakers, who led by as many as 14 within the first half, noticed their third-quarter woes proceed, with the Celtics breaking issues open with a 33-21 quarter out of the break.
«We have now to get dedicated to taking part in as a group offensively,» mentioned Lakers coach Frank Vogel. «And once we do, like we noticed within the first quarter, it appears lovely and also you see the potential of what we may be. However we bought into holding the ball an excessive amount of and never taking part in for one another sufficient. However that is a part of studying one another and constructing that cohesiveness and the appropriate habits. After which defensively, guys are going to have huge roles in the event that they decide to the defensive facet. And if they do not, they don’t seem to be. It is that easy.»
The 130 factors by Boston had been essentially the most the Lakers have allowed all season.
«We are able to exit and compete each evening however I do not suppose it is our offense, I feel it is our protection, truthfully,» mentioned Anthony Davis who led L.A. with 31 factors. «We have simply bought to do a greater job on the defensive finish.»
For Westbrook, who was outperformed by the purpose guard he was introduced in to interchange, Dennis Schroder — because the Boston guard had 21 factors, six assists and 6 rebounds to Westbrook’s 12, six and 4 — there was a component of déjà vu. It was one other annoyed evening for him and his new group as they attempt to come collectively.
«I feel the truth of it’s everyone on the surface have actually excessive expectations of our group, as they need to,» Westbrook mentioned. «However the actuality of it’s we have not actually performed with one another realistically, and no person cares and everyone asks the identical query, and I am uninterested in giving the identical reply to the identical query each time we lose.
«It is like, ‘Hey, how lengthy do you suppose it will take?’ We do not know. Once we win, it is nonetheless going to take a while. So the truth of it’s, all through the season there’s going to be ups, there’s going to be downs. It is now what you do as a group. You’ll be able to pull aside, or you’ll be able to come collectively and determine it out.»
The Lakers are nonetheless with out Kendrick Nunn (proper knee) and Trevor Ariza (proper ankle), who’ve each but to seem in a sport this season. And rookie swingman Austin Reaves continues to be sidelined with a hamstring pressure.
James mentioned he wish to see the group decide on a constant look — both going huge with DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard getting the lion’s share of the minutes at heart; or small, with Davis on the 5 — and sticking to it.
He additionally does not need the group to run from its struggles.
«It is by no means as unhealthy as it might appear and it is by no means pretty much as good as it might really feel,» James mentioned. «So I keep even keeled all through the entire journey. I perceive it is a enormous [undertaking]. It is a course of for us. And I’ve at all times felt comfy when issues are uncomfortable so I stay up for the method of us making an attempt to get higher.
«And us getting higher. Not making an attempt. We are going to get higher. We are going to enhance.»

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