For the most part, LeBron James has been pleased with the Los Angeles Lakers’ recent quality of play, despite the fact that they’ve lost three of their past four games.
The Lakers have turned the ball over a total of nine times over the past two games and lost those three games by a total of 10 points. A few plays here and there, and the Lakers could be looking at a nine-game winning streak.
Unfortunately, that’s precisely the problem.
This current Lakers unit — without Anthony Davis, Lonnie Walker IV, and Austin Reaves — has to play flawless basketball to win, and they need their 38-year-old superstar to do the same. As brilliant as LeBron is, that model is unsustainable and unrealistic.
LeBron bluntly pointed this out after the Lakers’ 116-111 loss at home to the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday. Despite a 32/8/9 effort from James, a relatively efficient night from the field as a team, and the absence of Domantas Sabonis, a few costly miscues (including a fatal Max Christie clear-path foul in the final seconds and poor shot-clock management) doomed the Lakers, who now sit at 20-25 and 13th in the Western Conference standings.
“We’re definitely a ballclub that has zero room for error,” LeBron stated. “Tonight I thought we played a pretty good game. We had seven turnovers — nine turnovers in two games, that’s amazing … We did give up 20 second-chance points, most of those came in the first half. But, we don’t have much room for error. We’re limited with bodies. We played pretty much almost everybody tonight.
“Until some of our key guys get back … AD, AR, and Lonnie, we have to continue to play how we played the last couple of games. Mistake-free basketball … It’s a game of inches. Just like football.”
The optimistic outlook presumes that the Lakers probably close out some of these games with Davis. On the other hand, having a healthy and top-of-his-game AD for prolonged stretches — a necessity if the Lakers want to sniff the postseason — has been a rarity since the bubble. Plus, they were under .500 with profound crunch-time struggles when he was thriving.
In other words: the Lakers need to be completely healthy and consistently play mistake-free basketball. Easy, right?