Shorthanded Lakers face woeful Knicks on road
LeBron James is expected to accompany the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday afternoon when the club plays the fourth contest of its five-game road trip against the New York Knicks.
Whether the four-time NBA Most Valuable Player will be wearing a Lakers' uniform or an expensive suit remains to be seen.
James sat out Los Angeles' 111-97 setback at Detroit on Friday due to what the team referred to as "load management" connected to the groin injury that sidelined him for a month earlier this season. The Lakers were playing the second half of a back-to-back set, with James logging nearly 32 minutes in the club's 111-98 loss to Toronto on Thursday.
The 34-year-old wasn't the only member of his team sitting out vs. the Pistons. Lonzo Ball (ankle), Tyson Chandler (neck), Brandon Ingram (right arm) and Lance Stephenson (toe) were also spectators as Los Angeles went on to lose for the seventh time in eight games.
"We had to play with pretty much everyone we had, we were down in bodies," Lakers coach Luke Walton said. "... We played hard enough to win, but we didn't make enough shots to win."
James, who averages team bests in points (27.4), rebounds (8.6) and assists (8.0), also sat out Los Angeles' 119-112 setback to New York on Jan. 4.
Lakers second-leading scorer Kyle Kuzma, who sat out that contest vs. the Knicks with a bruised back, is just 8-for-25 from the field and 0-for-7 from 3-point range in his last two games.
Reggie Bullock, who was acquired prior to the NBA trade deadline, is shooting just 31.0 percent from the field and 15.4 percent from 3-point range in his last eight games. The 27-year-old misfired on all five of his 3-point attempts on Friday and finished with four points.
"No player's out there trying to miss; players are out there trying to make," Bullock told the Los Angeles Times. "We just have to continue to keep shooting with confidence and believe that every shot is going in.
"It's frustrating on my end too knowing that I'm a true, true knock-down shooter. Certain passes or different type of things, I can't put that on teammates. I just have to be able to step in and knock the shot down."
Rajon Rondo picked up the slack with 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists against Detroit. The 33-year-old has shot 17-for-32 from the field in his last three contests.
Like the Lakers, the NBA-worst Knicks are limping toward the end of the season. New York dropped its eighth straight game with a 109-83 setback in San Antonio on Friday.
The Knicks played without point guard Dennis Smith Jr., who is considered day-to-day with a sore lower back.
"His back just kind of went out on him," New York coach David Fizdale said. "He had a couple of collisions there during the last game (Tuesday's 103-98 loss against Indiana)."
Damyean Dotson recorded a team-high 21 points vs. the Spurs and DeAndre Jordan chipped in with 11 points, 13 rebounds and a career high-tying nine assists.
Jordan has posted a double-double in four of his last five games.
--Field Level MediaHome