The question is, after a 125-118 loss in a game where the Lakers were down by as much as 24 points, if they could have just prioritized rest to be as sprightly as possible for the last two, it was worth it to be regular-season games this weekend?
“It’s one of the toughest games we’ve had this year,” he said Lebron James, who had 30 of his team-best 33 points after halftime but also had a team-best six turnovers. “Coming back from travel last night and coming back late after an overtime game… that was one of those scheduling conflicts of the season and it definitely blew us away tonight.”
James and Anthony Davis were both listed as questionable with their respective foot injuries, but the Lakers updated them to available about 45 minutes before the tip, and both started the game.
Davis had 17 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks and was playing in his first straight games since November – before suffering a bone spur and stress reaction in his right foot in December that cost him 20 games.
“I’ve been better,” he said when asked how his foot felt after the game. “But I am fine.”
The Lakers, returning from an eight-day, four-game road trip that included an unplanned extra night in Minneapolis because of a snow storm and an overtime game in Salt Lake City on Tuesday as the finale, encountered a Clippers boater when Kawhi Leonard and Co. had been waiting for the game in LA with three full days off since their last game on Saturday.
“Circumstances were not used as a crutch,” said Lakers coach Darvin Ham. “They were just real. The real NBA schedule. Everyone goes through it at some point in their schedule every year.”
Russell had 15 points in 6-for-13 shooting and seven assists in 40 minutes. Bamba didn’t come into play.
“I’m just trying to do it right,” Russell said of his foot injury. “Playing at 50 percent doesn’t help the team. Anytime I’m more than that, I’m ready to play.”
The Housemates of the Crypto.com Arena came into play Wednesday night with identical 41-38 records, with the Clippers owning the tiebreaker.
Wednesday’s result put the Clippers in 5th place, a game ahead of the Lakers while they held the tiebreaker. The Lakers are in seventh place with home games against them Phoenix Suns on Friday and Utah jazz on the rest of Sunday.
The Lakers can still capture the No. 6 and avoid the play-in tournament by combining 2-0 Warriors of the Golden State Graduation 1-1. The Warriors have street games against them Sacramento Kings And Portland Trail Blazer remained.
“Wherever we land, that’s where we land,” James said. “For us it was four or five seasons in one. We don’t have the luxury of saying, ‘This is what we have to do. Here we will be.’ We still have to keep playing good basketball.
He added: “We’ll see. Wherever we fall, we’ll be ready to go.”