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Basketball: LeBron James says Lakers still a work in progress’ amid slow start

LeBron James has disclosed that the Los Angeles Lakers are still a work in progress. The Lakers saw their record drop to 11-9 on Thursday with a 133-110 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, keeping them in seventh place in the Western Conference.

It wasn’t an especially close loss. The Lakers won the first quarter 37-30, then proceeded to get outscored by 19 points in the second quarter, eight points in the third quarter and three points in the fourth quarter. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued to look like a burgeoning superstar, posting 33 points and seven assists.

After the game, James pointed to the Lakers’ recent injuries as a reason for the runaway loss and praised the team’s record despite adversity:

“You could start seeing the [three games in four nights], the back-to-back, the bodies that we don’t have start to wear on us, especially vs. a young team like OKC.”

“I have no idea what we are. How? We don’t have our group yet. I know what some of us individually are, but as far a team, we don’t have our group yet. We haven’t logged enough minutes with our group where we know we got the starting group, the guys coming in, we got a good rhythm. We’re over .500, we’re 11-9 with literally not ever having our same group. That’s pretty impressive.

Those two aren’t wrong about the Lakers being shorthanded, though it’s far from clear whether they would be a top contender if completely healthy.

On Thursday, the Lakers were missing Cam Reddish, Jaxson Hayes, Jarred Vanderbilt, Rui Hachimura and Gabe Vincent. Those are all players who, for the most part, can provide competent minutes, but it’s also not like this team is the Denver Nuggets without Jamal Murray or the Phoenix Suns without Bradley Beal. Both of those teams are still ahead of the Lakers in the standings.


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