No team in the NBA has lost more games over the past six seasons than the Lakers, but whatever infects basketball operations has graciously spared game operations, which are still the league's best.,The team plays in the most appealing market in the league; their local broadcast deal pays them in excess of $150 million per season; they employ LeBron James; and they have picked second overall in three of the past four drafts.,Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAYRather than assign blame to unfavorable news reports that embarrassed her franchise, Buss could have taken a page from Robert Sarver, the owner of a Suns team with the fifth-most losses over these six seasons.,At some point, the Lakers must recognize that running an NBA team is far more than an exercise in brand management and talent recruitment.,A front office is a managerial project like any other business -- NBA teams make widgets, only they're wins (or, more commonly for the Lakers, losses).

And at this stage in James' career, with three championships, eight consecutive NBA Finals appearances to his name and an equally burgeoning business and political profile off the court, James is a transcendent star.,Johnson said the Lakers didn't want to make the team like the Cleveland Cavaliers all over again for James.,James was just starting to find his footing with this new cast in Los Angeles.,Since his return from injury, the Lakers have a defensive rating of 109.6 when James is on the floor in four wins; the Lakers have a defensive rating of 113.1 when James is on the floor in the eight losses.,Most of the roster wasn't going to be back next year anyway, given the team's insistence on signing players to only one-year contracts to preserve salary-cap space for a second star this summer.

On a team featuring LeBron James, Rajon Rondo, Lonzo Ball and a core of young rising stars, the former Kansas sharp-shooter has no problem being a role player during his rookie year in the NBA.,When Los Angeles took him in the second round of June’s NBA Draft, Mykhailiuk thought he was joining a team that was up-and-coming and could contend in the next few years.,Charlotte Hornets guard Devonte’ Graham (4) looks to pass against Los Angeles Lakers guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, right, and guard Lance Stephenson in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018.,Self wonders if Mykhailiuk’s minutes will drop when James, Rondo and Ball return from injury in the coming months, but it appears the rookie has a secured spot in Walton’s rotation.,The longtime KU coach has sent dozens of players to the NBA during his stint in Lawrence and said given player and personnel, Mykhailiuk has a lot to like about his young career so far.

With four-time MVP LeBron James still sidelined by a left groin strain, Kyle Kuzma scored 32 points to help the Lakers beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 138-128 in overtime.,Ball bounced back with five points, two rebounds and an assist in overtime.,Walton was impressed with his second-year point guard's overall effort, especially late in the game.,"For him to do that against Westbrook �� I'm sure a player he watched growing up as one of the great point guards in our league — not only to score those points, but a couple of big assists to Zu coming down the lane, a big-time rebound.,FADING DEFENSE

The Thunder, among the best defensive teams in the league during the first half of the season, have allowed an average of 130.2 points in their past six games. read more

Then we give up.Other Chargers storiesChargers Cover-Three defense looked more like Cover-NoneHelene Elliott columnizes off of the gameAntonio Gates wants to keep playingSaints winThe New Orleans Saints defeated the defending Super Bowl champ Philadelphia Eagles, 20-14, to advance to the NFC title game, where they will host the Rams next Sunday at noon on Fox.That means the conference championship will be a rematch of teams that met in Week 9, with the Saints beating the Rams, 45-35, also in New Orleans.I think that we match up really well, Rams offensive lineman Rodger Saffold said of the Saints.,The last time we played them, it came down to a game of just running out of time.At the end of the day, I think well have a better plan against them the second go-round, and youve got to be excited to be able to go back there and get another chance at those guys again.You can take a first look at the Rams-Saints matchup by clicking here.So, it will be Rams-Saints for the NFC title and Patriots-Chiefs for the AFC title.,So did the Cleveland Cavaliers.Things arent quite that bad, but the Lakers are 3-7 since LeBron James was injured and are tied with Utah for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot.Fans took to social media after the game to criticize coach Luke Walton.,Turns out it wasnt gold in their stockings, it was a lump of coal painted gold.Also check out:Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram take on expanded roles with LakersHigh school basketballOne thing that often gets overlooked in the discussion of the impending strike by the LAUSD teachers strike set to begin today is how the strike will impact high school sports.High school sports reporter and columnist Eric Sondheimer takes a look at that by using the upcoming Fairfax-Westchester game as an example.The strike will halt the sports seasons for thousands of City Section athletes, boys and girls.,Bartow seemed pretty unhappy with the team in the second half, becoming very animated in timeout huddles more than once.Kris Wilkes had 21 points and Prince Ali had 13 points for the Bruins, who lost their first Pac-12 game and are now 3-1 under Bartow.USC basketball (Kevin Porter Jr. suspended indefinitely)What seemed so promising turned out to be a disastrous time in Oregon for the USC mens basketball team.

Cedi Osman scored 20 points, Collin Sexton added 17 and the Cavaliers ended a 12-game losing streak with a 101-95 victory on Sunday night.,Tristan Thompson had 15 points and 14 rebounds, and Alec Burks had 17 points and 13 rebounds as the short-handed Cavaliers split the two-game season series by forcing the Lakers into a choppy game.,Kyle Kuzma had 29 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers, who have lost two straight and five of their past seven.,Burks and Osman hit 3-pointers to bookend the push, and Cleveland was able to sustain a 10-point margin going into the fourth by holding Los Angeles to 8-for-26 shooting.,SLOW START

The Lakers trailed 32-24 after the first quarter, the fifth time in the past six games they allowed at least 30 points in the opening period. read more

LOS ANGELES — Cedi Osman scored 20 points, Collin Sexton added 17 and the Cleveland Cavaliers ended a 12-game losing streak with a 101-95 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night.,Kyle Kuzma had 29 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers, who have lost two straight and five of their past seven.,Los Angeles was 7 for 34 on 3-pointers and had 11 fast-break points.,Burks delivered an emphatic dunk after Ingram couldn’t handle a defensive rebound to help the Cavaliers re-establish control after Kuzma scored five straight to cut the Cavaliers’ lead to 84-79 midway though the four quarter.,Burks and Osman hit 3-pointers to bookend the push, and Cleveland was able to sustain the 10-point margin going into the fourth by holding Los Angeles to 8-for-26 shooting.

The Utah Jazz played without point guards Ricky Rubio, Dante Exum and Raul Neto because of injuries, and it was no big deal.,Mitchell had 33 points and a career-high nine assists, helping Utah beat the Los Angeles Lakers 113-95 on Friday night.,Utah broke the game open in the second quarter by holding Los Angeles without a field goal for nearly seven minutes.,Los Angeles trimmed Utah's lead to 76-66 in the third quarter after Beasley made back-to-back baskets and hit a pair of free throws as part of a 10-0 run.,Utah used a 14-5 run, capped by a layup from Gobert, to put it out of reach again and take a 95-73 lead with 7:03 left in the fourth quarter.

The Lakers are gearing up to host Detroit Pistons tonight, which will be their eighth straight match without the injured James.,Head coach Luke Walton confirmed James will be re-assessed by the side's medical department on Friday.,Local Lakers reporter Kyle Goon tweeted: "This might have been inferred earlier, but Luke Walton just confirmed that LeBron James is not traveling to Utah.,"He’s scheduled to have his medical re-evaluation Friday in LA." The Lakers have listed James as 'day-to-day' on their injury report.,And Kyle Kuzma is hoping to see Brandon Ingram and Lozno Ball step up in James' absence.

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Nor is it likely to end well for a lot of Lakers, some of whom could be New Orleans-bound in a trade for Anthony Davis … or cut for salary cap space, like the eight of them who are on one-year deals, to bring in more free agents like Klay Thompson … or unemployed like Coach Luke Walton if Magic Johnson holds him responsible for any shortfall.,I don’t see a second-round loss going over well with Johnson, not after he read Walton the riot act seven games into the season, then, in as close as he felt like coming to reassuring everyone publicly, said Luke would, “finish this season unless something drastic happens, which it won’t.”,It’s still emerging with last week’s report by ESPN’s uber-connected Adrian Wojnarowski that Magic has wanted a new coach since he took over, but has yet to convince Jeanie Buss, who is “fiercely loyal” to Walton.,Despite his cachet, James hasn’t been a behind-the-scenes schemer … aside from all his player recruiting … although Riley, whom LeBron left high and dry, late revealed that LeBron hinted that he would like him to fire Coach Erik Spoelstra during LeBron’s first season in Miami without coming out and actually asking him to do it.,A recent report from ESPN’s uber-connected Adrian Wojnarowski indicated that Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson has wanted a new coach since he took over in February of 2017, but has yet to convince team owner Jeanie Buss, who is “fiercely loyal” to Luke Walton, left.