Kawhi Leonard said there is “nothing significant” with his foot injury and that he has been playing with it for some time.
In his first game back after missing the previous five games due to right foot soreness, Leonard had 16 points, six assists and five rebounds in 30 minutes in the LA Clippers‘ 110-104 loss to the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center.
“I’m feeling good,” Leonard said in his first comments since April 9. “We took the proper steps to get me right, to make sure nothing significant is wrong with me … so hopefully we can just keep moving up from here.”
When asked if he will have to play through this foot injury for the remainder of the season, Leonard said the issue is not something that just developed after the last time he played against Minnesota on April 18.
“Yeah, I mean, I’ve been doing it,” Leonard said. “It’s not something that just occurred after the last game. But I’ll be all right. I’ve been through situations like this before.”
The Denver Nuggets spoiled the All-Star’s return by overtaking the Clippers for third in the Western Conference. The Nuggets beat the Clippers for a second time this season and took the season series and tiebreaker between the two teams.
For the Clippers, though, Leonard’s return was more important. Leonard had missed nine of the Clippers’ previous 10 games.
“It was great to share the floor again with him,” Clippers All-Star guard Paul George said. “He’s gonna find his rhythm. You know, I thought he looked good tonight.”
George added: “Hopefully we can continue to keep him healthy. But he’s going to be better and better. That’s just who Kawhi is.”
With seven games remaining in the season, the Clippers want to develop as much chemistry as they can with their starters on the floor together. Serge Ibaka, who was the starting center when healthy, missed his 25th consecutive game because of a back injury.
Starting point guard Patrick Beverley missed his 12th straight game Saturday because of a fractured hand. Beverley has played in only two of the past 26 games due to injuries, but Clippers coach Ty Lue said Beverly could return in the next few games if he continues to progress.
Leonard said he traveled with the team on its recent road trip to help develop chemistry, something LA was missing when it blew a 3-1 series lead and lost in the second round to Denver last postseason.
“Just making sure the team sees my face,” Leonard said of staying with the team on the road while he was out. “Just wanted to still be in that motion, be in that rhythm and most importantly letting guys know I’m here and, you know, just let them hear my voice and see my face.”
Asked if the team has enough time to gel before the postseason, Leonard said, “You know, I’m back, [we’re] just going to have to do it with what we have. We won games before, so we just got to keep this rolling and see the adjustments and the players [who] are going to play in certain situations to help us win games.”
NBA Power Rankings – What all 30 teams are playing for down the stretch
The NBA regular season ends May 16. But we still have so much to figure out!
Will the Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets or Milwaukee Bucks secure the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference? Can the surging Phoenix Suns outduel the Utah Jazz in the race for the Western Conference’s top seed?
Will the New York Knicks really capture a top-4 seed?
Those are a lot of questions. The next two weeks will answer all of them. Until then, here’s where our panel sees all 30 teams — each with something to play for during the regular season’s final stretch.
Note: Throughout the regular season, our panel (ESPN’s Tim Bontemps, Nick Friedell, Andrew Lopez, Tim MacMahon, Dave McMenamin, Royce Young and Ohm Youngmisuk) is ranking all 30 teams from top to bottom, taking stock of which teams are playing the best basketball now and which teams are looking most like title contenders.
1. Phoenix Suns
2020-21 record: 46-18
Previous ranking: 3
With their playoff spot already clinched, the only thing left to decide for the Suns is seeding. And Phoenix is shooting for the stars. The Suns have their eyes on the top overall seed. If the Suns can beat out the Jazz and take the No. 1 overall seed into the playoffs, it will be the first time they’ve done so since 2005, when they were ousted in the conference finals. (Phoenix also secured the No. 1 overall seed in 1981 and 1993.) — Lopez
This week: @CLE, @ATL, NYK, @LAL
2. Utah Jazz
2020-21 record: 46-18
Previous ranking: 1
The race for the NBA’s best record and the West’s top seed could go down to the wire, but it isn’t the Jazz’s priority at this point, particularly with the likelihood of the Lakers and/or Clippers being involved in the 4-5 matchup. Utah hopes to be fully healthy going into the playoffs, so they will be as patient as necessary with All-Star guards Donovan Mitchell (sprained ankle) and Mike Conley (hamstring tightness). Ideally, the Jazz will have at least a handful of games down the stretch with their full roster to reestablish rhythm entering the postseason. — MacMahon
This week: SAS, SAS, DEN, HOU
3. Philadelphia 76ers
2020-21 record: 43-21
Previous ranking: 5
After surviving an overtime game in San Antonio on Sunday night thanks to a Ben Simmons tip-in, Philadelphia is now one up in the loss column on the Nets — plus the tiebreaker — with eight games to play, putting the Sixers in prime position to snag the all-important top seed in the East. Another factor in Philadelphia’s favor: Only one of its final eight games (at Miami) comes against a team in the top eight of either conference. — Bontemps
This week: @CHI, @HOU, NOP, DET
4. Brooklyn Nets
2020-21 record: 43-22
Previous ranking: 2
Sunday’s showdown against the Bucks felt like a playoff game, but it also carried seeding significance. There’s incentive, particularly for the Nets, to move to the No. 1 seed, because that means the second-round matchup would be the 4-5 winner (currently the Knicks or Hawks), instead of the 3-6 victor (currently the Bucks or Celtics). Milwaukee is still within striking distance of catching the Nets for the No. 2 seed too, especially with these teams turning around and playing again on Tuesday. — Young
This week: @MIL, @DAL, @DEN
5. Denver Nuggets
2020-21 record: 43-21
Previous ranking: 7
Denver continues to defy expectations without Jamal Murray. Since Murray went down with a season-ending injury, the Nuggets are 9-1. And they’ve been without Will Barton and Monte Morris, who could be nearing a return. Nikola Jokic is not only playing like the MVP, he has his team competing with confidence and composure. Michael Porter Jr. has taken off. The Nuggets handled the Clippers again, and Denver is now in the driver’s seat for the third seed in the West. Avoiding a first-round series against the Lakers would be ideal, but the most important thing for the Nuggets is to get healthier, keep Jokic fresh and maintain their groove heading into the postseason. — Youngmisuk
This week: @LAL, NYK, @UTA, BRK
6. Milwaukee Bucks
2020-21 record: 40-24
Previous ranking: 6
By beating Brooklyn on Sunday, the Bucks kept their hopes alive of moving up from third in the East. Now, they face a massive rematch against Brooklyn on Tuesday in Milwaukee, where the Bucks will have a chance to move within a game in the loss column — and grab the tiebreaker. If Milwaukee wins, it remains a real threat for the second seed (and possibly even the top spot, if Philly falters down the stretch). If Milwaukee loses, it’s time to start resting guys and preparing to finish third, as the Bucks would essentially be down three games to Brooklyn with seven to play. — Bontemps
This week: BRK, WAS, HOU
7. LA Clippers
2020-21 record: 43-22
Previous ranking: 4
The Clippers have lost three straight but none more stinging than their most recent to Denver. The Nuggets won the season series and the crucial tiebreaker, and they overtook the Clippers for third place in the West. Seeding likely will be important only from the standpoint of avoiding a potential first-round matchup with the Lakers. Really, the most critical thing for the Clippers over these final seven games is to define roles and develop chemistry with Kawhi Leonard back. Patrick Beverley is nearing a return, and Serge Ibaka continues to work his way back. It’s imperative for the Clippers to see what they can do at full strength, if only for a few games, before the postseason starts. — Youngmisuk
8. New York Knicks
2020-21 record: 36-28
Previous ranking: 10
The Eastern Conference’s hottest team has earned itself the inside track to the fourth seed and home-court advantage in the first round. New York is 1.5 games ahead of the Hawks and 2.5 games in front of the Celtics with eight to play. A difficult task lies ahead beginning Monday night in Memphis: a five-game trip through the Western Conference against playoff teams in Memphis, Denver, Phoenix and both L.A. teams. — Bontemps
This week: @MEM, @DEN, @PHO, @LAC
9. Los Angeles Lakers
2020-21 record: 36-28
Previous ranking: 8
The defending champs are currently in crisis mode. The return of Anthony Davis and LeBron James from injuries hasn’t helped L.A. build off the momentum the team was able to muster while the stars were sidelined. With eight games left, the Lakers are in real danger of falling to the play-in tournament, where their repeat hopes could be dashed in one or two games before the playoffs even begin. — McMenamin
This week: DEN, @LAC, @POR, PHO
10. Dallas Mavericks
2020-21 record: 36-28
Previous ranking: 9
Heading into Monday’s action, the Mavericks are locked in a three-way tie for fifth with the Lakers and Blazers in what could become one of the most fascinating races in the Western Conference. One of those three will be relegated to the play-in tournament. And with every game mattering down the stretch, Dallas can’t afford to lose Luka Doncic for any of them. Doncic received his 14th and 15th technical fouls of the season during Sunday’s loss to the Kings; one more is an automatic one-game suspension. — MacMahon
This week: @MIA, BRK, CLE, @CLE
11. Portland Trail Blazers
2020-21 record: 36-28
Previous ranking: 12
After an awkward few weeks, the Blazers have righted the ship and have gotten out of the play-in spot. They’ve won four straight, all on the road, with CJ McCollum working back to full strength and the role players stepping up. For Portland, avoiding the play-in is the priority; with a favorable schedule to close out, chances are looking much better than they did a week ago. — Young
This week: @ATL, @CLE, LAL, SAS
12. Atlanta Hawks
2020-21 record: 35-30
Previous ranking: 11
When the Hawks fired head coach Lloyd Pierce at the start of May, Atlanta was 11th in the Eastern Conference. Fast-forward two months and the turnaround under Nate McMillan has been so drastic that the Hawks could find themselves with home-court advantage in the first round. The Hawks, Celtics and Heat are all looking up at the Knicks for the No. 4 spot — and whoever finishes last among that bunch will be sent to the play-in tournament at No. 7. — Lopez
This week: POR, PHO, @IND
13. Miami Heat
2020-21 record: 35-30
Previous ranking: 13
Miami has won four of its past five contests and appears to be rounding into form heading in the postseason. Kendrick Nunn has had a nice stretch recently, averaging 20.4 points over his past five games. The same goes for Bam Adebayo, who is averaging 19.4 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists over his past five outings. The Heat are tied with the Hawks for the fifth seed in the East and are just two games behind the Knicks for the fourth seed and home-court advantage. — Friedell
This week: DAL, MIN, @BOS
14. Boston Celtics
2020-21 record: 34-31
Previous ranking: 14
While Boston has to be concerned about finding itself in the play-in tournament after losing to the Blazers on Sunday night, of far greater concern is the health of Jaylen Brown, after he and Jayson Tatum collided in the final minute of that defeat and left the game. Brown was unable to put any weight on his right leg. No matter how Boston does over these final games, it has no chance of doing anything in the playoffs if Brown isn’t available. — Bontemps
This week: @ORL, @CHI, MIA
15. Golden State Warriors
2020-21 record: 32-32
Previous ranking: 16
The Warriors come into the final two weeks of the regular season sitting half a game behind the Grizzlies for the eighth spot and half a game ahead of the Spurs for 10th in the Western Conference standings. Stephen Curry will be the reason nobody in the West wants to see the Warriors in the play-in tournament. Curry comes into Monday’s game against the Pelicans as the league leader in scoring at 31.3 points per game. — Friedell
This week: @NOP, @NOP, OKC, OKC
16. Memphis Grizzlies
2020-21 record: 32-31
Previous ranking: 15
The Grizzlies are trying to hold off the Warriors and Spurs in the fight for eighth place in the West, which has become a lot tighter after Memphis lost three of its past four. That’s a significant spot: It assures a team two chances of claiming a postseason bid in the play-in tournament. Memphis also is tinkering with the bench rotation while trying to get Jaren Jackson Jr. up to speed after the franchise cornerstone missed most of the season due to knee surgery. — MacMahon
This week: NYK, @MIN, @DET, @TOR
17. Charlotte Hornets
2020-21 record: 31-33
Previous ranking: 17
Charlotte sure won’t be coasting into the play-in tournament. The Hornets sit half a game ahead of the Pacers for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference and just two games ahead of the Wizards for 10th. Some great news: LaMelo Ball (wrist) returned to the floor on Saturday night for the first time since March 20 and immediately created highlight-reel moments in a win over the Pistons. — Friedell
This week: @DET, CHI, ORL, NOP
18. Washington Wizards
2020-21 record: 29-35
Previous ranking: 20
Washington is 10-2 in its past 12 tilts, with its only losses coming in overtime to San Antonio and by one point to Dallas. Somehow, after their COVID-19 outbreak, the Wizards have put themselves in position to at least make the play-in tournament. This is an absolutely critical week, with two games against ninth-place Indiana. Getting into ninth or eighth means potentially facing the Hornets or Pacers, rather than a potential play-in matchup as the 10th seed against perhaps Miami, Boston or Atlanta. A lot can happen in the final stretch, but this week will have a playoff feel for Washington against Indiana twice, Milwaukee and Toronto. — Youngmisuk
This week: IND, @MIL, @TOR, @IND
19. San Antonio Spurs
2020-21 record: 31-32
Previous ranking: 18
With nine games remaining, San Antonio will continue to jockey for position in the West play-in race. It’ll take a lot of work for the Spurs to catch the Trail Blazers (or the Mavericks or Lakers) at No. 7, so the race for the No. 8 spot is on. San Antonio will have to move forward without Derrick White, whom the team doesn’t expect back this season because of a sprained right ankle. — Lopez
This week: @UTA, @UTA, @SAC, @POR
20. Indiana Pacers
2020-21 record: 30-33
Previous ranking: 19
Fresh off of serving Oklahoma City the worst home loss in NBA history, Indiana can get its focus back on seeding in the play-in race in the East. The Pacers are trailing the Hornets for the eighth seed but have a game and a half cushion on the Wizards for 10th place. It’ll be easy to catch Charlotte, however, if the Pacers could continue to post franchise records in points like they did against the Thunder. Indiana also has more chances to look at how things work with Domantas Sabonis and Caris LeVert on the floor at the same time. The Pacers are 9-9 this season when both play. — Lopez
This week: @WAS, SAC, ATL, WAS
21. Toronto Raptors
2020-21 record: 27-38
Previous ranking: 21
Sunday night’s impressive road win over the Lakers still leaves Toronto with a very steep hill to climb to make it into the play-in tournament, as the Raptors are 2.5 games behind the Wizards with nine remaining. What will likely matter more in the end to the Raptors is where they finish alongside the Bulls and Kings for positions seven through nine in the NBA draft lottery. — Bontemps
This week: @LAC, WAS, MEM
22. New Orleans Pelicans
2020-21 record: 29-35
Previous ranking: 22
The Pelicans’ play-in tournament hopes could be decided by Tuesday night. New Orleans has back-to-back games against the Warriors starting Monday evening (7:30 ET on ESPN). The Warriors are three games ahead of the Pelicans in the race for the play-in tournament, and the teams also play each other in the penultimate contest of the regular season. But two wins by the Warriors this week and New Orleans can start prepping for the offseason. — Lopez
This week: GSW, GSW, @PHI, @CHA
23. Sacramento Kings
2020-21 record: 27-37
Previous ranking: 24
Two wins in a row, including Sunday’s victory over the Mavericks, have Sacramento 4.5 games behind the Spurs — who’ve lost three in a row — for the final play-in spot. Potentially hampering that playoff push is Tyrese Haliburton‘s status after injuring his left knee in the win over the Mavs. — McMenamin
This week: @OKC, @IND, SAS, OKC
24. Chicago Bulls
2020-21 record: 26-38
Previous ranking: 23
The Bulls are three games behind the Wizards for the final play-in spot in the East. All the high hopes the Bulls had after acquiring Nikola Vucevic have disappeared. Zach LaVine hasn’t played since April 14 because of COVID-19 protocols. The Bulls are 4-10 in their past 14 games, and they have a rough stretch during the final two weeks of the season, which includes Monday’s game against the Sixers and two against the Nets. — Friedell
This week: PHI, @CHA, BOS, @DET
25. Minnesota Timberwolves
2020-21 record: 20-45
Previous ranking: 28
Even though they don’t have much to play for, the Timberwolves are approaching the final few weeks looking to string some more victories together. They could rest starters and try to improve their chances at another top-3 pick, but the Wolves are hoping to begin building a winning mentality and momentum into next season. They are 6-4 over their past 10 games and just put together a four-game winning streak, getting it snapped in overtime against New Orleans. — Young
This week: MEM, @MIA, @ORL
26. Cleveland Cavaliers
2020-21 record: 21-43
Previous ranking: 25
The Cavs are still technically alive in the chase for a play-in spot — trailing No. 10 Washington by eight games with eight games left to play. But considering Cleveland is 1-9 in its past 10 while the Wizards are 8-2, it’s all but over. And that’s merciful, considering how weird of a week it was for the Cavaliers, with Kevin Love needing to apologize to teammates for carelessly batting a ball in bounds against the Raptors and then attempting zero shots in 22 minutes two games later. — McMenamin
This week: PHO, POR, @DAL, DAL
27. Orlando Magic
2020-21 record: 20-44
Previous ranking: 29
Cole Anthony provided one of the best highlights of a difficult season by knocking down a buzzer-beater to top the Grizzlies on Saturday night. Anthony finished with 26 points. It’s going to be interesting to see how the 20-year-old rookie guard pairs with Markelle Fultz next season. The Magic are well out of the playoff picture and are hoping for some lottery luck; they own the Bulls’ 2021 first-rounder if it stays out of the top four. — Friedell
This week: @DET, BOS, @CHA, MIN
28. Detroit Pistons
2020-21 record: 19-45
Previous ranking: 27
The Pistons’ late-season struggles — they’ve now lost nine out of 12 — do come with a silver lining: Detroit is already officially eliminated from postseason contention, guaranteeing it will keep its 2021 first-round pick. The Pistons owe Houston a first-round pick as part of November’s sign-and-trade deal for Christian Wood, but it is top-16 protected this year. Pistons general manager Troy Weaver will have that selection, plus three second-rounders, to work on the rebuild this offseason. — McMenamin
This week: ORL, CHA, MEM, @PHI, CHI
29. Oklahoma City Thunder
2020-21 record: 21-44
Previous ranking: 26
The Thunder’s 57-point loss to the Pacers was probably the low point of the season, but it really wasn’t all that surprising of an outcome. They’ve been playing fewer and fewer rotation-level NBA players, instead approaching the last few weeks with a very developmental and experimental mindset. They’ve made major progress on securing top-4 lottery odds, though; they are currently fifth worst, and with the Timberwolves rising, things are looking up (down?) for OKC. — Young
This week: SAC, @GSW, @GSW, @SAC
30. Houston Rockets
2020-21 record: 16-49
Previous ranking: 30
It’s pretty much a certainty that the Rockets will finish with a bottom-3 record, meaning Houston will be in the bunch that has the best draft lottery odds. The rest of the season is about developing the Rockets’ young core, particularly 20-year-old guard Kevin Porter Jr. He became the youngest player in NBA history to record a 50-point double-double in a breathtaking performance against the Bucks last week, a lightning bolt of promise in a thunderstorm of a season. — MacMahon
This week: PHI, @MIL, @UTA
Luka Doncic on brink of suspension after receiving two more technical fouls
DALLAS — Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic is one technical foul shy this season of hitting the threshold for an automatic one-game suspension following his ejection from Dallas’ 111-99 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Sunday.
Doncic received his 14th technical foul of the season in the second quarter and his 15th with 31 seconds remaining.
“I won’t get another one,” Doncic said. “Don’t worry.”
Doncic, who had 30 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 6 turnovers in the loss, said he thought the NBA should rescind both of the technical fouls called against him Sunday. The league office rescinded a technical foul called against Doncic for yelling “and-1” at an official after he scored during an April 2 win over the New York Knicks.
“It’s something we’ve been making him aware of,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said regarding Doncic’s nearing an automatic suspension.
Carlisle was also ejected from the game. He received two technical fouls, which were called within moments of Doncic’s.
“Look, I set a poor example tonight by getting two myself,” Carlisle said. “That’s on me. I apologized to the team after the game for it, too. It’s not the right example.
“I’ve got four technicals this year; they’re all from the same guy [referee CJ Washington]. I’m not sure exactly what that says, but there’s a saying, ‘Reasonable men have the right to disagree.’ I’ll stick with that.”
Doncic’s first technical foul Sunday was called after he disagreed with an offensive foul call crew chief Rodney Mott made against him with 10:23 remaining in the second quarter.
“The first technical foul was called after a correct call offensive foul, and in transition, he runs past me and he screams, ‘Hell no!’ as he shakes his fists,” Mott told a pool reporter. “Which is a disrespectful response to a referee. That’s unsportsmanlike.”
Doncic acknowledged that’s what he said to Mott. “He told me I cannot tell him, ‘Hell no,'” Doncic said. “Maybe I can tell it to others, but to him, no. That’s why I got a tech.”
Doncic’s second ejection occurred during a timeout with 31.8 seconds remaining after Kings guard Delon Wright’s layup stretched Sacramento’s lead to 13 points. Doncic tossed the ball toward the opposite basket, a violation of the rules, although players often take an extra shot after the whistle without incident.
“If you get a tech for that, that’s …” Doncic said, pausing and shaking his head. “I don’t know.”
Mott, who also called that technical foul, said Doncic threw the ball “due to frustrations of a call” and “in an overt manner.” Mott said a delay of game warning would not have been appropriate because Doncic committed an unsportsmanlike act.
“We had a timeout and he takes the ball and he doesn’t throw it to the nearest official, he throws the ball the length of the court, which makes it an unsportsmanlike act,” Mott said. “The rule clearly states that you have to hand the ball to the nearest official.”
Carlisle was called for his second technical seconds earlier for addressing an official “in a disrespectful manner using vulgarity,” Mott said.
Carlisle said he was upset that referees ignored what he considered “clearly a travel” by Wright. “There was no call,” Carlisle said. “That kind of was the last straw for me, but we’ve got to move on.”
LeBron James battles sore ankle as frustrated Los Angeles Lakers lose again
Losers of six out of their past seven games with just two weeks remaining in the regular season, the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers don’t look anything like a title team right now.
At 36-28, they now have an identical record as the Portland Trail Blazers, who are currently in the No. 7 spot in the Western Conference. The Lakers are in sixth only because they hold the tiebreaker with Portland from beating the Blazers on Feb. 26.
This year, being No. 7 doesn’t guarantee you a first-round playoff series. The NBA will hold a play-in tournament in which the Nos. 7 and 8 teams face off and teams seeded Nos. 9 and 10 will also play. The winner of the 7-8 game advances to the first round and the loser of the 7-8 game plays the winner of the 9-10 game to determine the final playoff berth in each conference.
Asked about potentially capping a 72-game season that followed a 71-day offseason with needing to win an extra game just to qualify for the postseason, Lakers star LeBron James joined the growing chorus criticizing the play-in format.
“Whoever came up with that s— needs to be fired,” James said.
The fact that the Lakers even had to comment on a potential play-in scenario says it all considering in February the team was off to a 21-6 start and seemed in excellent position to defend its title.
But a calf strain and Achilles tendinosis in Anthony Davis‘ right leg caused him to miss nine weeks and a high right ankle sprain caused James to miss six weeks, and suddenly L.A. finds itself with more questions than answers with only eight games left on the regular-season schedule.
James, who was held out the final six minutes, 42 seconds on Sunday after experiencing soreness in his right ankle, might not even play in it.
“I definitely want to get healthy. Not only for myself, but for our team,” James said, confirming he would make the decision based on how he feels Monday. “I need to make sure my ankle is where it was before the injury. I’ve got to be smart with it.”
James, in no uncertain terms, prioritized health and recovery over chasing wins for playoff seeding.
“It doesn’t matter at the end of the day if I’m not 100% or close to 100%,” he said. “It don’t matter where we land.”
Adding to the concern level for the Lakers is the fact that Davis, in his sixth game back from injury, looked just as off his game as James did in his second game back — if not more.
Davis scored 12 points on 5-of-16 shooting (including 0-of-3 from 3) against Toronto with nine rebounds, seven assists and three steals, and L.A. was outscored by 11 in the 33 minutes he played.
“You kind of get used to the 20-25 minutes [range], and now you push up 10 more minutes, 12 more minutes and now you got to get that wind playing that long for an entire game,” Davis said.
When asked if he is capable at the moment of being the same guy who dominated during his first season in L.A., he said: “I think I can be. Honestly.”
But he also offered an honest assessment of where the Lakers stand, dealing with yet another setback before the Raptors game when it was revealed that Dennis Schroder would be out because of the league’s health and safety protocols.
“The entire team is kinda in a slump right now, a drought. Not more so individually, but just collectively, on both ends of the ball,” Davis said. “This is the lowest we’ve been in a while … But the only way is up. We really can’t get any lower than this.”
Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma was less diplomatic.
“I just don’t think we’re connected right now. I think we’re unhealthy and just not good enough,” Kuzma said. “We’re just not together as a whole — team, staff, everything.”
When asked what he would do to begin to repair whatever is causing the Lakers’ rut, Kuzma suggested giving more playing time to center Marc Gasol, whose role has been limited since L.A. signed big man Andre Drummond off the buyout market. Other than that, he was at a loss for words.
“I don’t know, man. It’s just very tough. It’s just an unfortunate situation,” he said. “It’s tough, man. It’s just tough. It’s very tough. I’m not sure what to do.”
Davis mentioned, maybe if only to remind himself, what many on the roster accomplished last season when they won it all. There’s a pride that comes with that, and it hasn’t died out just yet.
“It’s no fun when you’re losing, but at the end of the day, we’re the champs, man. Like, we are the champs. We’re the defending champs,” Davis said. “So we got to play that way and play with a little bit more swag.”
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