LeBron James says the Los Angeles Lakers' slump is to be expected as they have "no chemistry" due to being so severely depleted.

The Lakers suffered a fourth straight defeat for the first time this season when they went down 138-110 to the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday.

Head coach Frank Vogel and five players were absent as a result of being under the NBA's health and safety protocols, while Anthony Davis remained sidelined with a knee injury in the final game at Staples Center before the venue becomes the Crypto.com Arena.

Four-time NBA champion and MVP James, who scored 36 points and claimed nine rebounds, says it should come as no surprise that the Lakers (16-17) are struggling.

He said: "Every year has its new challenges. This is another year where you can literally have one guy one night and the next night you don't. We've literally just seen that; having TA [Trevor Ariza] last game and then TA is out, so it's the unknown.

"Every time you take a test you've got to see who is positive and who is negative and go from there."

 

Lakers added: "In the past it's not like we had multiple guys who were out, we were just trying to figure out what's the best way for us to win and how do we win?

"What's the best line-ups to be on the floor? Let's log in so we can get better and better. We literally haven't had an opportunity to log-in anything.

"We don't know. We have no chemistry with any line-up from the single fact that we literally haven't logged enough minutes.

"What is our strong line-up besides me and Russ [Westbrook] and AD [Anthony Davis]? Or AD and Russ, or me and Russ? We've both been out, so we don't know."

Keita Bates-Diop scored a career-high 30 points for 13-18 San Antonio.

Stephen Curry scored 46 points including eight three-pointers as the Golden State Warriors defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 113-104 on Thursday.

Curry fell four points shy of his season-high 50-point haul but dominated throughout for the Warriors, shooting eight-of-14 from beyond the arc with four rebounds and four assists. The two-time MVP brought up his third return of 45 points or more this season.

Gary Payton II played a key role in the starting rotation with 22 points with four triples including a clutch three-pointer in the fourth quarter.

Curry's haul marked a return to form as Golden State improved to 26-6, remain one-half game behind the Phoenix Suns (26-5) for the best record in the NBA ahead of their Christmas Day match-up.

 

LeBron, Kemba and Jokic heroics fall short

LeBron James scored 36 points with nine rebounds, six assists and two blocks but it was not enough to prevent the Los Angeles Lakers from going down 138-110 to the San Antonio Spurs. The result leaves the Lakers with a record below .500 at 16-17 after four straight defeats.

Kemba Walker produced a vintage display with a season-high 44 points with nine rebounds and eight assists as the New York Knicks went down 124-117 to the Washington Wizards.

Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic's heroics were also in vain as the Denver Nuggets lost 115-107 to the Charlotte Hornets despite the Serbian's 29 points, 21 rebounds and five assists.

Devin Booker (30 points, seven rebounds, seven assists) and Deandre Ayton (19 points, 12 rebounds) led the way as the Suns stayed top and claimed their fifth straight win in a 113-101 triumph over the Oklahoma City Thunder, while Khris Middleton (26 points, five rebounds, seven assists) and Jrue Holiday (24 points, seven rebounds, seven assists) delivered again in Giannis Antetokounmpo's absence as the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Dallas Mavericks 102-95.

 

Embiid loses his radar

Joel Embiid shot six-of-17 from the field as the Philadelphia 76ers lost 98-96 to the depleted Atlanta Hawks. Embiid finished with 23 points, 10 rebounds and two assists.

LeBron James is bullish that he will be fine for the Los Angeles Lakers' next game on Thursday despite an injury scare in Tuesday's 108-90 loss to the Phoenix Suns.

James went down writhing in pain in the third quarter after landing awkwardly on his left ankle when driving to the basket.

The 36-year-old, who has had ankle issues this season, punched the floor at the time, but eventually got up to play on, finishing with 34 points and seven rebounds.

The four-time MVP was benched late but was confident he would be fine to play the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday, brushing off questions about the ankle concern.

"I stepped on Jae Crowder's foot," James snapped at the post-game news conference when asked about what happened.

When pressed on the severity of the injury, he added: "Yeah, I'll be ready for the next game."

James clearly was not in a mood to discuss the concern as the Lakers' frustrating season continued, slipping to a 16-16 record after being dispatched by the Western Conference leaders.

The Suns and the Golden State Warriors continue to streak ahead in the west, boasting 25-5 and 25-6 records respectively.

"The Western Conference has got some really good teams right now, obviously Phoenix and Golden State are playing extremely good basketball," James added.

"For the majority of the season they've been extremely healthy. That definitely helps in terms of their chemistry."

The defeat comes with Anthony Davis sidelined with a knee injury for the next four weeks and leaves James uncertain about their status as genuine title contenders.

"I feel like that's a question I ask myself after every game," James said when asked if the Lakers were only good on paper rather than reality. "I don’t know, I don’t think so.

"We don’t know. We have no idea what this team could be. We haven’t been whole. February was the last time we played the same starting lineup or had the same rotation off the bench, it's been a long time so it's hard to assess that."

LeBron James hurt his ankle but played on as the Los Angeles Lakers were humbled by the in-form Phoenix Suns 108-88 led by Devin Booker with 24 points on Tuesday.

The Lakers had a major injury scare, with All-Star forward Anthony Davis already sidelined, after James rolled his left ankle driving to the basket in the third quarter, leaving him punching the floor.

The four-time MVP soldiered on, finishing with 34 points and seven rebounds, but spent the final few minutes on the bench as the Lakers were brushed aside by the Suns who improve to 25-5.

Phoenix have four straight and won six of their past seven games, having started the season 1-3. The Suns had seven different players in double figures on Tuesday.

Booker starred in his second game back after a hamstring injury with 24 points including six three-pointers, along with nine rebounds and seven assists. Suns center Deandre Ayton had 19 points and 11 rebounds.

Talen Horton-Tucker had a nightmare game for the Lakers, shooting one of 13 from the field and none of eight from beyond the arc, while Russell Westbrook had 22 points and 10 rebounds but also seven turnovers.

 

Lillard's heroics in vain as Blazers lose

Damian Lillard's 39 points, including six triples, were not enough to lift the Portland Trail Blazers past the New Orleans Pelicans, going down 111-97. Brandon Ingram finished with 28 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, while Jonas Valanciunas had 10 points with 16 rebounds.

Jalen Brunson stepped up in Luka Doncic's absence with 28 points including three triples in the Dallas Mavericks' 114-102 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Karl-Anthony Towns scored 26 points with 12 rebounds and seven assists for the Wolves.

Julius Randle had 21 points and 11 rebounds as the New York Knicks overcame the Detroit Pistons 105-91.

 

Brogdon injured as Pacers burnt by Heat

The Indiana Pacers' starting five combined for a measly 46 points in their 125-96 defeat to the Miami Heat. The Pacers were not helped by a sore right Achilles to Malcolm Brogdon which forced him off after eight minutes.

DeMar DeRozan had 38 points as the Chicago Bulls rallied past LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers late in the fourth quarter on the way to a 115-110 victory. 

DeRozan hit a jumper with 52.6 seconds to play to give the Bulls the lead and added a pair of free throws with 15.6 seconds left to extend the margin as Chicago held on late. 

Carmelo Anthony and Wayne Ellington missed game-tying three-point attempts after that before Lonzo Ball iced the win with two more free throws. 

Ball had 19 points and Nikola Vucevic added 19 points and 13 rebounds for the Bulls (18-10), who have the second-best record in the Eastern Conference behind the Brooklyn Nets (21-9). 

James led the Lakers with 31 points and 14 rebounds but made just one of seven shots from three-point range. Anthony had 21 points and Russell Westbrook finished with 20 points, nine rebounds and eight assists for Los Angeles (16-15).

 

Suns rip Hornets, hold NBA's best record

The Phoenix Suns (24-5) can now claim the best record in the NBA after a 137-106 demolition of the Charlotte Hornets as Devin Booker returned to the lineup after missing seven games with a hamstring injury. Booker had 16 points and was one of nine Suns to reach double figures as Phoenix led 37-15 after the first quarter and did not let up, making 20 of 41 three-point attempts to 10 of 45 from beyond the arc for Charlotte (16-16).

Damian Lillard scored 32 points as the Portland Trail Blazers (13-18) picked up a 105-100 road win against the Memphis Grizzlies (19-12). The Grizzlies had won five in a row and 10 of 11 but shot only 38.5 per cent from the field Sunday as they squandered a career-best 37-point night from Dillon Brooks. 

 

Lowry, Heat fall to lowly Pistons

The Miami Heat had won four out of five games entering Sunday but everything fell apart in a 100-90 loss to the Detroit Pistons, who had lost a franchise record-tying 14 in a row. Kyle Lowry made just three shots from the field in 42 minutes for the Heat (18-13), though he finished with 19 points as he went 11-of-16 at the free-throw line. Saddiq Bey had 26 point to lead the Pistons (5-24), who recorded their first victory since beating the Indiana Pacers on November 17. 

Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis will undergo tests on Saturday to determine the extent of the injuries that forced him out of the defeat to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The 28-year-old took ankle and knee blows in the 110-92 setback on Friday, forcing him out of the game and leaving question marks over whether a lay-off could follow.

Lakers coach Frank Vogel said: "He did see the team doctor here. He's just going to have to be evaluated tomorrow [Saturday] with the MRI, and we'll know more at the time.

"Hopefully, it's something minor and he can get back soon, but we'll find out more tomorrow."

On the defeat, he added: "We have enough to win the game, and we didn't play well enough.

"I think their whole team was more physical. They definitely played a more physical brand of basketball today, and we've got to be better."

Davis is averaging 23.3 points plus 9.9 rebounds this season.

"You lose a player of AD's calibre, your team gets weakened," Vogel said. 

"We don't feel sorry for ourselves. You hope for the best for AD. You want him in there, and you hate to see any guys suffering any injuries, but we always feel like we have enough to win.

"So, we're not feeling sorry our ourselves or looking for excuses."

Davis managed just nine points in 20 minutes on court, while LeBron James scored a modest 18 points in 35:30 with five-of-13 shooting, adding 10 rebounds.

James is hopeful Davis will be soon back in action.

"I asked him how he's doing, and he said: 'I'll know more tomorrow', so that's all we know," James said.

"My concern is always for his health. You wish for the best."

James reflected on injuries and the COVID-19 crisis depleting the Lakers' ranks, with players coming in and out of isolation, and said the current circumstances felt "like a revolving door of what-ifs".

"Hopefully, we can get past it soon and can really show who we are as a team, what we are capable of and not having guys in and out so much," he added.

Austin Reaves admits he had always been the underdog on his way to the NBA, but for one night at least he was the hero for the Los Angeles Lakers.

The 23-year-old rookie earned a spot in the Lakers set-up after impressing in the Summer League, and now he is showing up as a big-league prospect, hitting the winning three-pointer against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night with 0.9 seconds left in overtime.

Reaves posted an NBA career-best 15 points and seven rebounds, making five of six three-point shots, earning high praise from superstar team-mate Anthony Davis after the Lakers' 107-104 win.

Davis said: "It's testament to the hard work he's putting in. He's a sponge. He's soaking up all the information that we give him. He wants to learn, he wants to get better.

"He's not afraid of the moment. He's a hard worker. He plays hard, does the right things. Even when we get on him during a game, he's right here accepting the criticism, accepting the help, and applying it on the floor."

LeBron James scored a team-high 24 points, adding three rebounds and five assists, but missed a last-gasp three-point attempt in normal time. The Mavs fumbled the rebound and Wayne Ellington swooped to hit a triple to send the game overtime.

Russell Westbrook (23 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists) came up with a clutch three-pointer in overtime, while Davis had 20 points and 12 rebounds.

Both sides traded triples in overtime, but shooting guard Reaves stepped up for the game-winning basket after being found by Westbrook wide open, lifting the Lakers to a 16-13 record with their third straight win.

"Great pass by Russ, great shot by Austin," Davis said. "Didn't even hit the net, it was a huge, huge shot for him."

It was described as "a hell of a shot" by coach Frank Vogel.

Reaves, roared into the locker room by team-mates and drenched in water as a prank, reflected on a tough journey to this moment in his career.

He said: "It's been the story of my life, I've always been under-rated. But at the end of the day you've got to produce on the basketball court 

"For me to hit that shot and for my team-mates to have the trust in me to take that shot is very, very special."

The Lakers had players sidelined by COVID-19 protocols, in a sign of the times for the NBA.

James said the team were "kind of living in the moment right now" in that regard.

"There's been a lot going on," he said. "We have a lot of injuries, a lot of mixed line-ups, a lot of guys in protocols, false protocols, things of that nature, so we are what we are as a team right now, and we like where we’re at."

The Los Angeles Lakers claimed a remarkable 107-104 overtime win over the Dallas Mavericks with rookie Austin Reaves clinching the game with a late three-pointer.

LeBron James finished with 24 points, three rebounds and five assists but missed a last-gasp three-point attempt in normal time, but the Mavs fumbled the rebound and Wayne Ellington swooped to hit a triple to send the game overtime.

Russell Westbrook (23 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists) came up with a clutch three-pointer in overtime - his only of the game - while Anthony Davis had 20 points and 12 rebounds to lift the Lakers to a 16-13 record with their third straight win.

Both sides had traded triples in overtime but 23-year-old shooting guard Reaves stepped up with scores locked at 104-104 after being found by Westbrook wide open, draining his three-point attempt with 0.9 seconds on the clock.

The Lakers surrendered a good start with a poor second quarter, where the Mavs outscored them 27-14, but defensively were excellent keeping Dallas, who were without Luka Doncic, to 27.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

 

Good Holiday with others out

Jrue Holiday stepped up in the absence of Khris Middleton (knee) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (COVID protocols) with 26 points and 14 assists to lead the Milwaukee Bucks past the Indiana Pacers 114-99. Tyrese Maxey had a game-high 27 points for the 76ers.

Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic continued his hot run with another triple-double (27 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists) but the Denver Nuggets lost 124-107 to the Minnesota Timberwolves, as Anthony Edwards scored 10 triples in his 38 points.

The Utah Jazz stretched their winning streak to eight games, beating the Los Angeles Clippers 124-103 with Rudy Gobert (20 points and 17 rebounds) and Donovan Mitchell (27 points and six assists) starring.

Devonte' Graham drained a 65-foot game-winning buzzer beater as the New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 113-110, while Gordon Hayward scored 41 points from 29 minutes on court as the Charlotte Hornets beat the San Antonio Spurs 131-115.

 

Embiid loses his touch

Joel Embiid missed a late three-point chance to tie the game and shot five of 13 from the field for his 17 points as the Philadelphia 76ers lost 101-96 to the weakened Miami Heat, who were without Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro. Gabe Vincent landed seven three-pointers in his career-high 26-point haul for the Heat.

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James believes he is "getting better and better" after he set yet another NBA record.

James became the oldest player in league history, at the age of 36 years and 346 days, to register a 30-point triple-double as the Lakers beat the Orlando Magic 106-94.

According to ESPN, James overtook the late Kobe Bryant, another Lakers great, who was aged 36 years and 99 days when he accumulated 31 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists in a win over the Toronto Raptors in 2014.

James had 30 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists on Sunday. He missed a chunk of games through injury at the start of the season, but still ranks third in the Lakers' roster for points (420), behind Russell Westbrook (546) and Anthony Davis (600).

"Who me? How do I continue how I'm playing? Been doing it for 19 years," James told reporters when asked how long he can maintain his recent form.

"Just do what I've been doing. I feel like I'm getting better and better each and every day. I'm getting healthier and healthier.

"That's just my mindset. Don't get involved in how many minutes I played, how many days off.

"I don't confine to that. I think you think negative thoughts or negative energy, it just creeps into your mind. So, I'm as young as I've ever been."

James played both road games in a double-header against the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder last week, collecting 53 points, 15 rebounds and 17 assists across those appearances.

His performance on Sunday was put down to getting plenty of rest upon his return to Los Angeles, though that only came after a trip to Phoenix to see his son in action.

"I slept last night from 12 [a.m.] to 8 [a.m.], I got up, ate breakfast and went back to sleep from 8:30 [a.m.] to 12:30 [p.m.]," James explained.

"Sleep. Sleep and inspiration from my son and his team."

Westbrook, who scored 19 points and had seven rebounds against the Magic, added of James: "When he's just being aggressive, he's aggressive in making the right plays and reads, our team's different.

"Tonight was another night where he imposed his will."

LeBron James came good on his resolve that the Los Angeles Lakers would not make the same mistakes again, as this time they finished off the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Lakers tossed away a 72-48 half-time lead when these teams tussled in October, and held a 50-36 cushion when they met again in early November, only to lose again.

On both prior occasions, James was absent. This time he was very much present, posting 13-of-20 shooting for 33 points in a 116-95 victory on Friday night.

With Anthony Davis (knee soreness) absent, James dazzled as he played a fourth consecutive game for the first time in what has been a stop-start season for the 36-year-old superstar.

In 15 games this season, James has scored 30 or more points in seven of them. More to the point, he has reached 30 in five of his last seven games.

Ankle and abdominal injuries have been a frustration for James this season, but he said after this latest showing: "I'm just getting healthier every day.

"My injury played a big part in me getting out of game shape, but also the dynamics of how I move and how I play left me kind of hampered at times. I've been able to see plays before they happen but not able to make them.

"But as I continue to get stronger and stronger and my injury continues to get closer and closer to 100 per cent, I'm able to go out there and do a lot of the things that I've been doing over my career that benefits our team. I'm happy the way I'm feeling as of late."

As a spectator, he had been as frustrated as anyone that the Lakers were unable to close out their previous games against Oklahoma this season.

"I was excited to play in this game just because of that reason," James said.

"I understood the leads that we built and me watching from the sidelines, seeing those leads evaporate and them celebrating on our floor last time they played us, and I couldn't do nothing but sit there and watch.

"They earned those wins, but I was looking forward to making an impact in this game and just trying to control the game how I know I can control the game on both sides of the floor, and I was lucky enough that my team-mates put some work in tonight and I just tried to lead them in the right direction."

The Lakers' win followed on from Thursday's 108-95 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, when James had a triple-double of 20 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists but wound up on the beaten team, his shooting not at its sharpest.

This time the Lakers logged a season-high 19 three-pointers, four of those from James with Avery Bradley netting six from behind the arc

Coach Frank Vogel saluted James' response, saying: "He was unbelievable tonight.

"I shouldn't say it surprises me, but it’s just incredible for him to play at such a high level. To perform the way he did tonight, not only just with his shot-making but his play-making and his will to take a tough loss last night and say, 'That’s not going to happen again'.

"The two losses we had against OKC where we built big leads and let them get back in it, he wasn't going to let that happen again tonight."

LeBron James cut a frustrated figure after the Los Angeles Lakers went down 108-95 to the Memphis Grizzlies stating that he "hates losing".

James became only the fifth player in NBA history to reach 100 career triple-doubles with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists against the Grizzlies.

However, the four-time MVP was more preoccupied with his side's issues as they gave up 22 turnovers as they slipped to a 13-13 record.

"I hate losing," James said at the post-game news conference. "Frustrated from the loss and how we played at times throughout the game.

"We had an opportunity beat a good team who's been playing extremely well and we didn’t do that."

James particularly was disappointed with the turnovers, giving up five himself, while Russell Westbrook was guilty of six.

"Tonight turnovers killed us," James said. "We were doing a hell of a job over the last seven games averaging only 12.5 turnovers.

"Tonight we had 22 for 27 points. That's been our Achilles heel before the last seven games and tonight it bit us in the butt."

Team-mate Anthony Davis, who top scored for the Lakers with 22 points along with eight rebounds, hinted that the Lakers, who were billed at title contenders in pre-season, needed to re-align.

"We've got to play like we’re the underdogs, which at this point of the season, the way we’re playing, a lot of games, we probably are," Davis told reporters.

"We've got to be able to have that mindset and we got to come in and be scrappy and be the more physical team and play like we’re the underdogs."

The Los Angeles Lakers have been beaten again going down 108-95 to the impressive Memphis Grizzlies despite LeBron James' 100th career triple-double.

James finished with 20 points along with 10 rebounds and 11 assists, bringing up his 100th career triple-double, but the Lakers could not stop the Grizzlies, still missing the injured Ja Morant, from scoring offensively.

Jaren Jackson Jr had 25 points for Memphis, while guard Desmond Bane finished with 23 points including five three-pointers.

Anthony Davis top scored with 22 points for the Lakers, who led at quarter-time, but Russell Westbrook struggled for impact, finishing with nine points, six rebounds and seven assists.

The result leaves the Lakers with a 13-13 record while the Grizzlies are 15-11.

The Eastern Conference-leading Brooklyn Nets overturned a double-digit deficit to top the slumping Dallas Mavericks 102-99 in the NBA.

Dallas led by 17 points in the third quarter on Tuesday before the Nets rallied behind superstar pair James Harden and Kevin Durant.

Harden put up 23 points and 12 assists, while Durant posted 24 points to help the Nets avoid back-to-back defeats, having squandered a double-digit advantage against the Chicago Bulls.

Brooklyn have now won six straight road games. Entering the contest, they owned an 8-2 (80.0) record away from home this season – the franchise's best road record through 10 games all-time, according to Stats Perform.

The result condemned Luka Doncic's Mavericks to a fifth successive home defeat, while Dallas have dropped eight of their past 10 games.

Mavericks star Doncic finished with 28 points, nine assists and six rebounds.

 

Lakers take down Celtics

The Los Angeles Lakers' big three all starred in a 117-102 victory over the Boston Celtics. LeBron James had a team-high 30 points, Russell Westbrook had 24 points and 11 assists, and Anthony Davis scored 17 points to go with 16 rebounds. James has tallied 155 points in his last five games. According to Stats Perform, the only other player in NBA history to score that many points over a five-game span aged 36 or older is Michael Jordan.

 

Another off night for Randle

While the New York Knicks beat the San Antonio Spurs 121-109, All-Star Julius Randle endured another rough outing. Often the instigator for the Knicks, Randle made just five of his 12 shots from the field for 15 points in 35 minutes. Knicks team-mate Evan Fournier was three-of-eight shooting in a seven-point performance.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James has defended coach Frank Vogel after an inconsistent start to the NBA season.

The Lakers, one of the pre-season favourites for the championship, are 12-12 after Friday's defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers and sit seventh in the Western Conference.

With a roster that boasts talent such as James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo, more was expected from the 2020 champions, with coach Vogel coming in for recent criticism.

"I think criticism comes with the job, you know?" James said after practice on Monday. "Frank is a strong-minded guy. He has a great coaching staff. And we as his players have to do a better job of going out and producing on the floor.

"We're a team and an organization that don't mind some adversity, that don't mind people saying things about us, obviously, because it comes with the territory."

Vogel has an overall record of 106-61 (.635) with the Lakers, the sixth-best winning percentage of any coach in their history with at least 100 games.

James was back in the Lakers line-up for the Clippers game after returning two negative COVID-19 tests, posting 23 points and 11 rebounds in the 119-115 loss.

The 36-year-old entered the NBA's health and safety protocols last week, sitting out the 117-92 win over the Sacramento Kings due to a positive coronavirus test, but cleared the league's COVID protocols after additional testing confirmed the four-time champion and MVP was not a positive case.

"We have a lot of guys on this team that have been bulletin-board material for quite a long time, so it don't quite bother us," James added. "Everything that we do stays in house when it comes to our preparation and how we prepare for our next opponent and how we prepare to get better.

"Frank doesn't care and we don't either about what people are saying."

LeBron James says he was left "confused, frustrated and angry" at the NBA's handling of his false positive test that forced him to miss his side's 117-92 win over the Sacramento Kings.

James returned in Friday's 119-115 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers having cleared the league's COVID-19 protocols after additional testing confirmed he was not a positive case.

The four-time MVP and NBA champion, however, was left frustrated by the process that cost him a game and caused him "big-time inconvenience", having recorded a positive test prior to Tuesday's game in Sacramento.

"Pretty confused, frustrated, angry with not being able to do anything," James said at the post-game news conference.

James, 36, explained his anger was that he had initially tested negative, before a positive test, which led to immediate isolation rather than a further test to confirm his status.

"Usually when you have a positive test, they will test you right away to make sure," James said. "There was not a follow-up test after my positive test. It was straight into isolation and you've been put into protocol. That was the part that angered me.

"I had to figure out a way to get back from Sacramento by myself, no security, no one. I had to put my kids in isolation for the time being. The people in my house into isolation. It was a big- time inconvenience. That was the anger part."

James added that he always knew he was not COVID-19 positive, having no symptoms, further fuelling his frustration at the process.

"I knew I was going to get cleared," he said. "I never felt sick at all. I know you can be asymptomatic but if what I had was a positive COVID test, then what are we doing? What are we talking about?

"I thought it was handled very poorly. Being able to get cleared was a breath of fresh air for me, my family and friends."

James has not been able to play four straight games this season due to a range of issues including ankle and abdominal injuries along with a one-game suspension and his false-positive test.

The Lakers forward admitted the season had been "very frustrating" and "very challenging" as he struggled to find a rhythm.

James, who returned with 23 points, 11 rebounds and six assists against the Clippers, has played 11 games this season, averaging 25.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 6.8 assists.

The Lakers are 12-12 following Friday's loss.

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