Anthony Davis said the Los Angeles Lakers could not use LeBron James' injury-enforced absence as an excuse after the 39-year-old missed Saturday's 132-125 defeat to the Utah Jazz.

James rolled his left ankle during the first half of the Lakers' 127-109 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Thursday, staying in that contest but scoring a season-low 10 points in just 24 minutes on the court.

The NBA's all-time leading scorer was then absent as Los Angeles suffered their sixth defeat in eight games on Saturday, with D'Angelo Russell's season-high 39 points not enough in Salt Lake City.

Davis had a triple-double with 15 points, 15 boards and 10 assists but shot five of 21 from the field as the Lakers dropped to 19-21 for the season. 

While the 30-year-old pointed to the injury problems which have hampered Los Angeles throughout the campaign, he feels they have enough talent on the roster to win games without their stars. 

"We're not in a bad spot," Davis said. "It could be worse. Our injuries just piled up over and over. 

"As soon as we think we get a couple of guys back, guys go down. So, that's the toughest thing but we still have enough to win basketball games. 

"Even though Bron doesn't play, we have enough to win. We've just got to keep going. We've played 40 games, 42 left. We got to make a push. 

"These next five or six games at home are going to be a big stretch of games for us."

The Lakers, who sit 11th in the Western Conference standings, welcome the Oklahoma City Thunder, Dallas Mavericks, Brooklyn Nets, Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Clippers and Chicago Bulls to Crypto.com Arena in the next 11 days.

Domantas Sabonis notched his ninth triple-double of the season with 37 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds to lead the Sacramento Kings to a 131-110 win over the lowly Detroit Pistons.

Sabonis shot 16 of 21 from the field, made his only 3-point attempt and was 4 of 4 from the free throw line. He moves within two triple-doubles of Denver’s Nikola Jokic for the league lead.

Keegan Murray scored 32 points on 13-of-17 shooting and De’Aaron Fox added 26 for the Kings, winners of five of seven.

Bojan Bogdanovic led Detroit with 26 points as the Pistons dropped their fifth in a row since ending their NBA-record 28-game losing streak.

Sacramento trailed by 20 points in the first quarter, led by 15 in the third, were tied in the fourth and then pulled away with a 9-0 run in the fourth.

Anunoby helps Knicks stay hot

OG Anunoby scored 23 points and Julius Randle added 20 with eight assists and seven rebounds as the New York Knicks won their fifth in a row, 112-84 over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Anunoby scored 16 points in the first quarter to help the Knicks open a 19-point lead. He shot 6 of 7 from the floor – 4 of 5 from 3-point range – and might have approached his season high of 29 points but the starters played sparingly in the second half.

New York is unbeaten since acquiring Anunoby from Toronto on Dec. 30.

Quentin Grimes had 17 points and Miles McBride had 16 as the Knicks moved a half-game ahead of Miami, Orlando, Indiana and Cleveland for fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

Davis shines in Lakers’ win

Anthony Davis scored 20 of his season-high 41 points in the fourth quarter and the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Toronto Raptors, 132-131.

Davis was 13 of 17 from the field and 13 of 14 from the free throw line while adding 11 rebounds and six assists. He made all eight free throw attempts in the final minute as the Lakers held on despite late 3-pointers by Toronto’s Dennis Schröder and Gary Trent Jr.

LeBron James had 22 points and 12 assists to help the Lakers win their second straight after a four-game skid.

Scottie Barnes scored 26 points and RJ Barrett added 23 with 10 rebounds for the Raptors, who had won three of four.

  

LeBron James urged the Los Angeles Lakers to use their victory over the Los Angeles Clippers as a "catapult" towards an upturn in underwhelming NBA form.

The Lakers snapped a four-game losing streak with a 106-103 triumph over their Los Angeles neighbours on Sunday.

LeBron's Los Angeles were just 3-10 since winning the in-season tournament, with Sunday's win a much-needed victory to somewhat ease a 13-game struggle.

"Try to use this to try to catapult a little bit better play from us," LeBron said after leading the game with 25 points against the Clippers.

"But it still doesn't take away from the fact of how we've been playing like the last 11, 12 games.

"Tonight was a good start. Hopefully we can start from here and continue to build."

Lakers coach Darvin Ham benefitted from having an increasing number of rotation options, with the fit-again D'Angelo Russell managing 13 points and six assists, while Jarred Vanderbilt impressed in defense.

Christian Wood also added nine points, 10 rebounds and two blocks, along with Max Christie's seven points, three rebounds and two blocks, as the Lakers' bench outshone the Clippers.

"All those guys helped us win, made some big shots, timely plays, and that's what we need," said Anthony Davis, who had 22 points and 10 rebounds.

"It takes 'the others' to win championships and win basketball games. And these guys played phenomenal tonight. When these guys are playing well, it just makes me and Bron's job a lot easier."

Ham labelled the performance as a benchmark for the remainder of the season.

"Everybody contributed, competed at a very high level," Ham added. "And I'm proud of them.

"Now the cat's out the bag for this one, in terms of how we need to approach each and every game and everybody do it as a committee."

Anthony Davis told the Los Angeles Lakers their season could "go south" quickly without immediate improvement after their latest loss to the Miami Heat.

The Lakers are 2-8 in their last 10 games after the Heat won 110-96 at Crypto.com Arena on Wednesday, led by Tyler Herro scoring 21 points as all eight Miami players hit double figures.

After a tough December, this was the first game of a run that will see LA play 11 of its next 12 at home but it did not provide an immediate reversal of fortunes.

The Lakers are now 17-18 on the season and have suffered a dramatic dip to No. 10 in the Western Conference standings since winning the NBA Cup.

Another home game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday will give them a chance to bounce back.

"We just got to compete, play hard and go out with a mindset of a must-win mentality, and hopefully that can propel us over to get back to .500 on Friday and then kind of put a streak together at home," Davis said, per ESPN. 

"I mean, we have been a really good home team thus far, and we got an opportunity to continue to build on that. But if we play how we played tonight, then it's going to go south for us really bad.

"It is a little bit of everything right now and if we keep on this trend, it’s not going to be good for us. It is kind of obvious that we have got to figure it out sooner than later.

"They threw a zone in, and they just dared us to make shots, and we didn't. Kind of took us out of our thing, but 10 turnovers in the first quarter was kind of a recipe for disaster."

Davis had a game-high 29 points as well as 17 rebounds and five blocks, but also had a team-high five turnovers. 

Austin Reaves had 24 points and eight assists in the losing effort, while LeBron James was restricted to a season-low 12 points.

"We're losing and anytime you lose, the vibe should be off, you know?" Reaves said about the low mood in the Lakers' locker room.

"If I went in and the vibe wasn't off after the rough stretch that we've had, then I'd be concerned. That's really it. I don't expect for us to be happy with how we've played. So, until we figure that out, you know, the vibe should be off. 

"We got to win games. When I say the vibe is off, it's not like we don't like each other. It's we're losing. But I don't want to get that twisted on us not liking each other. Everybody in the locker room gets along."

Miami won despite being without Jimmy Buttler, but the Lakers have also contended with injuries over recent weeks and had Rui Hachimura and D'Angelo Russell missing for this one.

Coach Darvin Ham feels constant changes to his lineup have played a major role in the team’s struggles, but also told his players they must perform better to end the slump.

"No stone shall go unturned and we are here to explore whatever we can to right the ship," he said.

"We can't find any consistency until we get healthy. It's as simple as that. We've got to get healthy. When you're dealing with different guys being in and out of the lineup that frequently, it's damn near impossible to find a rhythm. That's just being real.

"But it's a little bit of everything right now. We're not executing. That team [Miami] played harder than us, executed better than us, more physical than us. We got outworked. If we keep on this train, it's not going to be good for us.

"We got to attack and be more competitive, but we need guys to step up and play better. 

"The reason we signed them is because we know what they can do. And so you got to come with that confidence each and every night and you got to fight through it. 

"Things not going your way, you can't ball up in the corner somewhere and go cry about it. You got to step up and try to see how you can best assist your team in being successful."

Miami faces the Phoenix Suns on Friday to end their five-game road trip. The Heat are 20-14 for the season and 11-8 on the road so far, putting them fourth in the Eastern Conference.

LeBron James said it had been a "rough" New Year's weekend after playing through illness as the Los Angeles Lakers suffered their second defeat in as many days on Sunday.

James played through flu-like symptoms as the Lakers suffered a contentious 108-106 defeat to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday, being denied a potential game-tying three-pointer with 3.3 seconds remaining.

On New Year's Eve, the New Orleans Pelicans dropped Los Angeles to 17-17 with a comprehensive 129-109 success at Smoothie King Center, Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram posting 26 points apiece.

James scored a game-high 34 and former Pelican Anthony Davis had 20 points and 10 rebounds as the Lakers suffered a seventh loss in nine games, leaving the league's all-time leading scorer to reflect on a difficult few days.

"We have to figure it out and get better, for sure," James said. "We're not a team that likes to play from behind. We've been in that position a lot this year.

"The flight last night did not help, obviously. We didn't get to the hotel last night until 3:45 a.m., so, it was a rough day trying to recalibrate and get ready for the game. 

"But I'm happy I was able to go out and just try to make some plays happen for my team."

A raucous New Orleans crowd was on its feet when Jose Alvarado made steals from both James and Davis during the second quarter, with his team up by 19 points at that stage.

The 25-year-old was delighted to give himself a highlight-reel moment against one of the all-time greats, saying: "LeBron, he's one of the greatest players to ever play this game and for me to be on the court, for me to get steals, for me to do anything… that's pretty amazing.

"When I get back to watch videos when I grow old, and they say that he is the best player to play this game, at least I got a video of him, with me getting a steal."

LeBron James fumed at the decision to rule his potential game-tying shot a two-pointer after the Los Angeles Lakers were beaten by the Minnesota Timberwolves on his 39th birthday, asking: "What do we have replay for?"

The NBA's all-time leading scorer had no cause to celebrate on Saturday despite finishing with 26 points and six assists as the Lakers slipped to 17-16 with a 108-106 road loss.

James thought he'd levelled things up when he sank a big shot with 3.3 seconds remaining, only for the league's replay centre to rule it a two-pointer rather than a three.

The four-time MVP got another chance with 1.4 seconds on the clock after Anthony Edwards only made one of two free throws at the other end, but he failed to get his shot off before the buzzer.

Speaking to reporters in the locker room after the Lakers' fifth defeat in eight games, Lebron's mind was drawn to his potential leveller.  

"It's obviously a three," James said. "My foot is behind the line. 

"You can see the space between the front of my foot and the three-point line. You can clearly see white, the wood on the floor is the space between the front of my foot and the three-point line.

"What the hell have we got replay for? What do we have replay for if even the replay gets it wrong? 

"It's just like, who is a part of the replay centre? Have we got robots in there making Teslas? What's going on?"

Reflecting on his later missed opportunity, James added: "I kind of misread that. 

"I've been in that situation before. I've just got to do a better job of knowing time. I could have caught it and shot right away."

After the game, crew chief Tony Brothers explained a lack of evidence left the replay team unable to overturn the two-point call, saying: "The play was ruled a two-point field goal on the floor during live play. 

"After video review, there wasn't clear and conclusive evidence to overturn it from a two to a three, and that's why it stood as a two-point field goal."

Lakers coach Darvin Ham disagreed, saying: "The view I had, I thought it was a clear-cut three. Our guys on the sideline replayed it. We thought it was a good three."

Anthony Davis saw his dominant 33-point, 17-rebound performance proved redundant as the Timberwolves improved to 24-7, with Edwards scoring 31 points for the Western Conference leaders.

Anthony Davis lauded the Los Angeles Lakers for "playing the right way" after condemning the Charlotte Hornets to yet another defeat on Thursday.

Davis had 26 points and eight rebounds as the Lakers cruised to a 133-112 victory, moving the 17-time NBA champions up to 17-15 on the season and giving their playoff hopes a much-needed boost.

Davis was thrilled with his team's display on Thursday, telling reporters: "Guys were playing for each other, playing the right way.

"I'm able to bank some minutes, especially going into a tough back-to-back in Minnesota and New Orleans, it helps us as a team."

Two days before he turns 39-years-old, LeBron James had 17 points and 11 assists in helping the Lakers to the win, and Davis hailed the impact the four-time MVP continues to have, saying: "It's always good things that happen when the ball is in his hands.

"He makes great reads. He's a student of the game. He's seen every coverage and made a lot of great reads throughout his career, so every time we can get the ball in his hands, it's good for us."

The Hornets, meanwhile, lost for the ninth consecutive game, their longest losing run since 2014. The defeat dropped Charlotte to 7-22 on the season.

Head coach Steve Clifford lamented injuries to the likes of Gordon Hayward and Mark Williams, as well as the continued absence of LaMelo Ball, that have hampered the team on their six-game road trip.

"Our guys have worked hard, [but] they know we're short-handed," Clifford said. "This is a tough trip. A lot of times in this league, it's not just how many injuries you have, but when they come. Unfortunately for us, we've had more than our share of injuries, and this is not the time to be short-handed.

"But we played 41 good minutes the other night [against the Los Angeles Clippers]. We were right there. We've just got to defend."

Anthony Davis labelled Saturday's clash with the Oklahoma City Thunder as a "must win" for the skidding Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers lost for a fourth straight game as they went down 118-111 at the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday.

Their record since winning the NBA's inaugural in-season tournament is now 1-5.

And while there were green shoots of recovery against the Timberwolves, Davis knows the skid has to stop.

"It's the NBA season. There's going to be ups, there's going to be downs. Right now we're in that down period," said Davis, who finished with 31 points and eight rebounds.

"We've just got to continue to fight and continue to play hard. Play with some effort, some energy and we're treating Saturday as a must win.

"We've got to still buckle down and find ways to get wins.

"So after 30 [games], I think it's still tough to assess, but we know what we can be. We've shown what we can be. And we've shown that if we don't do the things we need to do to be successful then we're going to continue to be on this side of our record, which is losing."

The Lakers were without LeBron James, though the veteran is expected to be fit to face the Thunder, who are second in the Western Conference and beat the other Los Angeles team – the Clippers – on Thursday.

That snapped a nine-game winning streak for the Clippers, who lost 134-115.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 31 points while Chet Holmgren nailed an innovative dunk off the backboard to propel the Thunder to a third straight win.

James Harden and Paul George chipped in with 23 points and 22 points respectively for the Clippers, who were without talisman Kawhi Leonard.

"Obviously, they’re a super talented group," Gilgeous-Alexander said of the Clippers. "A bunch Hall of Famers over there, and we knew what the task was waking up this morning."

Clippers coach Tyronn Lue acknowledged: "They did a good job of just attacking us.

"We couldn't get back, we couldn't get set, we couldn't get matched, and they took advantage of that early."

Anthony Davis knows there is "no help coming" for the Los Angeles Lakers, who must find a way to overturn their poor form.

The Lakers have won just one of their five games since they beat the Indiana Pacers to claim the inaugural NBA in-season tournament trophy in Las Vegas earlier this month.

Their latest defeat came on Wednesday at the hands of the Chicago Bulls, with DeMar DeRozan leading his team to a 124-108 triumph.

LeBron James had 25 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, but it was not enough as the Lakers slumped to a third straight loss.

"We all hate losing," said Davis, who finished with 19 points and 14 rebounds.

"There's no break coming. No help coming. There's no cavalry. We've got to do it within this locker room.

"We've got everyone back now. We've just got to find a way to get in the win column."

Without injured All-Star Zach LaVine, it was another accomplished display from the Bulls, who had a poor start to the campaign but are now hitting form.

"We were going through it," said DeRozan, who scored 27 points, adding seven rebounds and nine assists.

"Sometimes you've got to go through it so you can find a different type of motivation that you can come together with. The best relationships come out of that."

The Bulls are 7-3 in LaVine's absence due to right foot inflammation, though coach Billy Donovan still wants his talisman back healthy as soon as possible.

"Anytime you lose a really, really great player, and a talented, gifted player like Zach, it always hurts you. I'm certainly hopeful when he gets himself healthy he can get back to where he was," he said.

"I think with what he was dealing with his foot for a long period of time, I'm not so sure that he was ever right."

While the Lakers endure a skid, their city rivals the Los Angeles Clippers maintained their league-best form.

The Clippers extended their winning run to nine games as Kawhi Leonard's 30 points lifted them to a 120-111 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.

Luka Doncic recorded his sixth triple-double of the season but it was not enough for the Mavs, who fell foul of another fine Clippers display.

"It's going to take time for them to find the rhythm, find the continuity, find the chemistry," said Norman Powell, who scored 21 points off the Clippers' bench.

"It's no summer league, summertime pickup basketball where you're doing whatever you want.

"There's a system in place, and everybody's got to figure out their role and how it goes."

Anthony Davis does not believe the Los Angeles Lakers are suffering a "championship hangover" since their NBA Cup success despite another defeat against the New York Knicks.

A big night from LeBron James, who had 25 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds in a triple-double for the Lakers, was backed up by 32 points and 14 rebounds from Davis at Crypto.com Arena.

But New York's Jalen Brunson scored 29 points, Julius Randle had 27 points and 14 rebounds, and Immanuel Quickley added 20 points as the Knicks prevailed 114-109 on Monday, improving to 15-11.

It was the Lakers' third loss in four games since winning the inaugural In-Season Tournament. 

The team unveiled their championship banner for the NBA Cup success ahead of the game and Davis is not overly concerned about their post-tournament slump.

"I mean, we are not losing by 20," Davis said. "We are in every game, we are fighting, competing, playing hard.

"I don't think it's a championship hangover. I don't think that it's one of those.

"We go in and have a battle against Dallas. Win against San Antonio. And then obviously let one slip away again against them. 

"And then a fight tonight. I don't think it’s one of those things where we are hungover from the in-season tournament.

"It's tough, because for the whole month of December, we've basically been on the road.

"There's nothing we can really do about it. It's the schedule. We've just got to take care of our bodies and get some guys back, hopefully in the next couple of games. But it's definitely a mental challenge."

LeBron, meanwhile, felt the tournament may have been one of many factors in a difficult spell, pointing out the runner-up Indiana Pacers are 1-4 since losing to the Lakers in the championship game.

He said: "It could be a little bit of everything, I don't know. Have you seen Indiana's record since Vegas?

"I feel like our energy was up and down throughout the course of the game.

"We've been feeling it, definitely. Even through that, we still competed and gave ourselves a chance, but it's a tough one for us."

James enjoyed seeing the banner unveiled and still has fond memories of the tournament, for which he was named the MVP.

He added: "I think it's awesome. To be able to acknowledge wins throughout the course of a marathon, that's pretty cool. 

"That's the first, the inauguration of it. We were able to win it. So, for our fans that didn't get an opportunity to be in Vegas, they got an opportunity to kind of share that celebration with us, share that moment, something that will live on forever for sure here. So, it was a good moment."

Coach Darvin Ham was happy to reflect on the NBA Cup success, with the Lakers (15-12) now preparing for a three-game road trip that starts against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday.

"It's great for the organization," he said.

"Obviously, [the tournament is] something that's going to be around. It's only going to get bigger and better. 

"I think it's really, really cool that we're doing that. Especially being the first to win the inaugural in-season tourney.

"It's been a great shot in the arm in terms of us rising to the occasion from a competitive standpoint and it furthermore creates and sustains a foundation that we're trying to set in terms of getting through the regular season and then, ultimately, into the playoffs.

"I think it's huge. The intensity in which everyone played. You could feel it. It's great. 

"Anytime you can get highly competitive basketball with the best athletes in the world, I think it's great for the fans, great for the organizations and ultimately great for the NBA.

"Now we have just got to push through this time. It's normally like that in December and January. So, we will be fine, we will watch it on film as we prepare to also get ready for this three-game trip."

Los Angeles is eighth in the Western Conference and also faces Minnesota and Oklahoma City this week after their game in Chicago.

LeBron added: "We want to finish out December the right way. Obviously, it's been a killer for us with the travel and games and things of that nature. There is no rest for the weary.

"We just got to mentally stay locked in and get ready for Chicago first."

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