Sunday, January 23 2022

The past week has not been kind to the Los Angeles Lakers. On Thursday, they learned LeBron James would be out for at least a week with an abdominal strain, and later that night they blew a 19-point lead to the lowly Oklahoma City Thunder. Unfortunately for them, the bad times continued on Saturday. 

Traveling to Portland without LeBron to play a Trail Blazers team that had won four in a row at home was never going to be easy. It was a winnable game, though, and exactly the type of situation for which they had acquired Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook — two younger stars to take some of the burden off LeBron. Instead, they were never even competitive, trailed by as much as 34 and eventually lost 105-90.

Right from the off, things went poorly. The Blazers had a double-digit lead by the middle of the first quarter, and with 4:51 left in the opening frame the Lakers had to take Davis out because he wasn’t feeling well. Any sort of illness is a cause for concern these days, especially with multiple players entering the health and safety protocols in the past week. 

“He woke up this afternoon with a bit of a stomach bug,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “Came back in and said his thumb felt pretty good, good enough to play, then he went and threw up in the back. Still wanted to give it a go, but by the time tip-off came around he had already thrown up four times. He wanted to see if getting out on the floor would change it, but wasn’t able to go.”

Thankfully, the Lakers said Davis is suffering from a stomach bug that is not COVID-related. When he’s able to return to the lineup remains to be seen, but the initial takeaway is that it shouldn’t be a long-term issue. It certainly was a problem against the Blazers, though, as the Lakers completely fell apart once Davis left the floor. 

The deficit ballooned to 22 points at the end of the first quarter, and the Lakers never really got back in the game. Westbrook has to shoulder a lot of the blame there. This was the type of situation — no LeBron, no Davis, the ball all to himself — where he should shine. 

He finished with eight points, nine rebounds, six assists and six turnovers on 1 of 13 from the field. You know it’s a bad night when you write out the stat line and have to use the actual words for the main category numbers because none of them were in double digits. 

At one point late in the first quarter, Westbrook caught a pass from Carmelo Anthony and was wide open at the top of the key. Instead of shooting the 3-pointer, he took a dribble in to the elbow and launched an airball that was so far short it barely even grazed the front of the net. And that wasn’t even the only jumper he airballed on the night. 

It’s early November and the Lakers essentially played this entire game without LeBron and AD, so in the grand scheme of things this game doesn’t really matter. In as much as another embarrassing defeat contributes to the general bad vibes around the team right now, however, this was a rough one. 



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