In the battle of professional basketball supremacy in Los Angeles, the Clippers defeated the Lakers on Wednesday night by 14 points. The Lakers slipped to 2-9 on the season, but they’re way more concerned with the health of LeBron James, who exited the game in the fourth quarter with a groin injury.
James will undergo an MRI on Thursday to gauge the severity of the injury, but he doesn’t think it’s as bad as a previous groin malady. During his first season with the Lakers in 2018-19, James missed 17 games after he partially tore his groin during a game on Christmas.
After a troubling 0-5 start this season, the Lakers bounced back with consecutive victories against the Denver Nuggets and New Orleans Pelicans. Since they edged out the Pelicans in overtime last Wednesday, the Lakers lost four games in a row by an average margin of 16 points.
Only the Houston Rockets at 2-10 have a worse record than the Lakers in the Western Conference. Bettors have been fading the Lakers for a profit. The Lakers are 2-9 against the spread and they share the worst ATS record in the NBA with the Miami Heat.
The Lakers were +1800 odds to win the NBA championship during the preseason. After their horrible start, the Lakers saw their title odds gradually weaken to +7000 odds at DraftKings.
Clippers Win Battle of LA
Paul George scored 29 points for the Clippers and led a well-balanced scoring attack with all five starters reaching double digits against the Lakers. The combo of Norman Powell and John Wall combined for 28 points and nine assists off the bench.
Wall sparked a 16-4 run at the end of the third quarter to quell a Lakers surge.
We’re starting to figure out, and come into our own,” George told the LA Times. “Basketball looks good for the Clippers right now.”
The Clippers won five out of their last six games and improved to 7-5 on the season. They’re now in seventh place in the Western Conference playoff standings.
The Clippers were a popular preseason pick to win the 2023 NBA championship, but All-Star and former MVP Kawhi Leonard has only appeared in two games this season. The Clippers shut down Leonard indefinitely after he returned to action too soon. Leonard missed the entire 2021-22 season after he blew out his ACL in the 2021 NBA playoffs.
LeBron: ‘Left Leg Soreness’
James missed the previous game with a sore left foot. Without James, the Lakers lost to the Utah Jazz on Monday.
A well-rested James scored a game-high 30 points in just 32 minutes against the Clippers. Head coach Darvin Ham subbed out James early in the fourth quarter, and he was spotted grabbing the inside of his thigh. The Lakers initially indicated that James suffered left leg soreness, but replays didn’t pinpoint a specific injury.
I didn’t do anything extraneous on the play,” James told reporters after the game. “When I landed, I felt a little spasm or strain in my groin.”
James was trying to lead the Lakers to a comeback victory over their Tinsel Town rivals. The Clippers jumped out to a 17-point lead in the first half, before the Lakers rallied in the second quarter to cut the deficit to two points at halftime. The Lakers suffered another slow start in the third quarter and trailed by 12 points heading into the fourth.
When James left the game midway through the fourth quarter, the Lakers failed to rally without their superstar.
“Still got to try to find ways to get wins whether ‘Bron is in the lineup or not,” said center Anthony Davis.
Davis added 21 points and nine rebounds in the loss. He’s been slowed down by a back injury, which initially flared up in the preseason. Despite the bad back, Davis missed just one game this season and is averaging 23 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game.
Russell Westbrook added 14 points off the bench but missed all three of his 3-point attempts. Westbrook reluctantly embraced his role as the sixth man, but he’s averaging 16.1 points, 6.3 assists, and 5.6 rebounds per game.
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