LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Lakers’ desperate push for a place in the NBA play-in tournament will continue Thursday in Utah, where LeBron James will miss a second consecutive game with a sprained ankle.
James was injured in the first half of the Lakers’ defeat in New Orleans on Sunday and missed the team’s embarrassing defeat to the Mavericks in Dallas on Tuesday.
That defeat – where the Lakers lost 82 points in the first half to Luka Doncic-led Mavericks – left Los Angeles with seven regular-season games out of the top-10 in the Western Conference standings.
The top six will go straight to the playoffs, while the seventh- to tenth-ranked teams will fight for the remaining two berths in the play-offs.
The Lakers’ 31-44 record matches that of San Antonio, but the Spurs have the advantage in a tiebreaker.
The Spurs launched a three-game homestand on Wednesday when they hosted Memphis.
In addition to listing James as “out” in the injury report on Thursday, Lakers star Anthony Davis has been listed as “suspicious.”
But it was among the ESPN media outlets that Davis, who has been sidelined since February 16 due to a leg injury, could return to Friday’s home game against the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Lakers are already battling, with coach Frank Vogel saying after the loss in Dallas that the team lacked “perseverance, IQ, intelligence, focus and fighting”.
The excitement was evident when Russell Westbrook snapped at a reporter’s post-game question about how the Lakers should react to falling from a post-season position.
“What do you think should change?” Westbrook said and when the reporter suggested “win”: “Did you get the answer to win?”
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