NBA

LeBron calls for Lakers urgency after third straight defeat despite return

By Sports Desk November 20, 2021

LeBron James says there is a sense of urgency that the Los Angeles Lakers need to play better now after slumping to their ninth defeat of the season on Friday.

James returned from an abdominal strain after eight games out but was unable to lift the Lakers who went down 130-108 to the Boston Celtics.

After 17 games in an 82-game season, the Lakers have an 8-9 record, having lost their past three games and seven of their past 10.

"We damn straight need to play better, no matter who's in the line-up," James said at a post-game news conference. "We have our system and we need to fast-track it and get better with it.

"It's never that we've got 65 games and we can figure it out. There's no level of panic but there should be some sense of urgency every time we hit the floor."

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said offensively his side needs to "get committed to playing as a team" while he labelled their rebounding (51-33) against the Celtics as "atrocious".

Russell Westbrook was among a host of new players added during the offseason at the Lakers and James said it was taking time for the side to develop cohesion.

The four-time NBA MVP also said patience was required having only just returned, along with starting forward Talen Horton-Tucker.

"As we continue to log more minutes, I continue to see where we're great at and not so good at," James said. "Things that we can improve on.

"Like I said, it's my first game in two and a half weeks. I believe it's Talen third or fourth game back. We're trying to figure out rotations and who to play when."

The Lakers led by eight points at quarter time and held the most slender advantage at the main break, before a 33-21 third quarter.

Vogel added: "We did not have a good third. We were stuck in mud. [But] it's about the whole game more than the third quarter.

"Our group has got to strike the balance of how we're going to play offensively. That's going to take some time. We have to get committed to playing as a team offensively.

"When we do, like we saw in the first quarter, it looks beautiful. You see the potential of what we can be."

James added that recovery from his first game back would be key to his short-term future as he rebuilds following his abdominal strain. The 36-year-old forward finished with 23 points and six rebounds on his return.

"Physically I felt okay. I know I can trust my body and play," he said. "I'm looking forward to seeing how I feel when I wake up. That's the tell-tale sign if I'm moving in the right direction with my injury."

Related items

  • John Wall set to sign with Clippers after Rockets buyout John Wall set to sign with Clippers after Rockets buyout

    Five-time All-Star guard John Wall plans to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers after reaching a buyout agreement with the Houston Rockets, ESPN reported on Monday.

    Wall will relinquish $6.5million of the $47.4m he was owed for the upcoming season, the final one of a four-year, $171m extension he signed in 2017 while a member of the Washington Wizards. Yahoo Sports first reported that a buyout had been reached.

    The 31-year-old will be joining a Clippers team that reached the Western Conference Finals in 2020-21 but were ousted in this year’s play-in, dealing with long injury absences for stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

    Leonard missed the entire season recovering from a torn ACL sustained in the 2021 playoffs, while a torn elbow ligament limited George to 31 games.

    Wall also did not play in 2021-22 due to reported differences between the veteran and the rebuilding Rockets over his potential role, and he hasn’t played more than 41 games in a season since 2016-17 due to several injuries.

    The top pick of the 2010 NBA Draft missed much of 2017-18 due to a knee injury that required surgery and sat the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season, recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon he suffered in January 2019.

    Houston acquired Wall from the Wizards in December 2020 for former NBA MVP Russell Westbrook, and he averaged 20.6 points and 6.9 assists in the lone season he took the court for the Rockets despite being limited to 40 games.

  • Kyrie Irving opts in for $37m with Brooklyn Nets Kyrie Irving opts in for $37m with Brooklyn Nets

    Kyrie Irving has exercised his $37 million player option with the Brooklyn Nets for next season, confirming his decision on Monday.

    The move ends any chance of a sign-and-trade deal and takes Irving off the market when the free agency negotiating period begins on Thursday.

    Locking in the enigmatic Irving ends speculation of him fleeing—for now, at least.

    Earlier this off-season, Irving had given the Nets a list of approved destinations if a sign-and-trade deal were to happen. The only team on the list that explored acquiring Irving was the Los Angeles Lakers, ESPN reported earlier Monday.

    “Normal people keep the world going, but those who dare to be different lead us into tomorrow,” Irving told The Athletic. “I've made my decision to opt in. See you in the fall. A11even.”

    Irving has played just 103 of a possible 226 games since signing with Brooklyn in the 2019 off-season.

    Irving chose not to receive any COVID-19 vaccinations, leaving him unable to play for much of last season due to municipal regulations in New York. He played 29 games in 2021-22, averaging 27.4 points and 5.8 assists.

  • 'Nothing has changed' – Bulls reiterate desire to re-sign LaVine 'Nothing has changed' – Bulls reiterate desire to re-sign LaVine

    The future of two-time All-Star guard Zach LaVine remains the biggest question mark this offseason for the Chicago Bulls.  

    The franchise's desires, however, have been made crystal clear.  

    "We hope Zach is here for a long time, and nothing has changed," executive vice president Arturas Karnisovas said Monday.  

    Karnisovas and the Bulls have repeatedly made their desire to re-sign LaVine public, with the NBA's free agent negotiating period set to start on Thursday.  

    Karnisovas spoke at a news conference intended to introduce first-round draft pick Dalen Terry, but LaVine's unrestricted free agency again took centre stage.  

    LaVine previously said that he plans on exploring his options in free agency but has not ruled out returning to Chicago.  

    The Bulls could offer LaVine a contract up to five years and about $212million, while the largest offer he could receive from another team would be near $157m over four years.  

    Expectedly, Karnisovas remained quiet on the offer the team plans to make to LaVine.  

    "I'm confident. I'm confident in approaching this free agency in the next couple of days, sitting down with our group, looking at a lot of things," he said. 

    After scoring a career-high 27.4 points per game in 2020-21, LaVine's production and efficiency dipped a bit last season as he battled thumb and knee injuries, averaging 24.4 points a night.  

    LaVine had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in May.  

    "I think he's gonna be healthy," Karnisovas said. "I think he's now progressing great."

    The Bulls got off to a strong start last season, leading the Eastern Conference into February but losing 15 of 22 games to close the regular season.

    Despite ending a four-year playoff drought, they were dispatched in the first round in five games by the Milwaukee Bucks.  

    Even with the disappointing end to the season, Karnisovas would like to keep together the core of LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic and Lonzo Ball.  

    "This group has been here only since October," Karnisovas said. "We're still trying to get used to how to play with each other."

    While free agent deals will not be officially recognised by the league until July 6, teams and players can agree to terms starting from this Thursday.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.