James is dealing with a thoracic muscle strain and a nagging groin injury. He’s missed just one game this season. Anthony Davis is also questionable after playing 32 minutes and scoring 32 points against the Nuggets.
Lakers Not Hyping Up Christmas Day Contest
While the Christmas Day contest pits two of the best Western Conference teams against each other, the Lakers have expressed that they’re not putting too much weight into the result — win or lose.
“It’s two fierce teams, for sure. It’s two competitive teams. Two competitive coaching staffs. So, you can expect a lot of competition. And may the best team that night win. You don’t know how the ball is going to go in, you don’t know what’s going to happen in terms of who is going to play well and things of that nature, but both teams want to win,” James told reporters earlier this month. “But it’s not the end of a season. It doesn’t mark what the team is going to be for the remainder of the season on a Christmas Day game.”
Veteran Lakers big man Dwight Howard expressed a similar sentiment.
“The championship is won in June — it’s not won on Christmas,” Dwight Howard said Sunday. “This is not an ego test for us. We’re not trying to see who’s better right now. We want to make sure come playoff time that we’re the best team going into the playoffs and at the end of the playoffs that we’re the best team in the world. That’s the goal. That should be our mindset.
“We can’t allow emotions to get in the way of what we’re trying to accomplish. I think we were super emotional in the first game, and it showed. So we can’t play with our emotions. We’ve got to play with our will and our purpose. And if we do that, we should win the game.”
Kyle Kuzma: No ‘Next Man Up’ When it Comes to LeBron
The Lakers have dealt with various injuries early this season, but it’s obvious James going down is not something that’s easy to replace.
After the game Kyle Kuzma shared some thoughts on how LeBron’s absence affects the game beyond just stats.
“It’s kind of hard to next-man-up LeBron,” Kuzma said. “He does so much. Shots come easier when he’s on the floor because everyone just looks at him.”
Davis — who saw a higher usage with James out — agreed.
“It’s tough when he’s out but we still got to find ways to win,” Davis said. “We lost our energy defensively. We got to continue to defend and once we get that edge back we’ll be fine.”