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.
But there was another key bit of news coming out of Houston on Saturday.,Lakers guard Lonzo Ball suffered a nasty looking ankle injury after colliding with James Ennis.,However, after an MRI on Sunday, the Lakers announced that Ball will be out for four-to-six weeks with a Grade 3 ankle sprain.,It goes without saying that this is bad news for both Ball and the Lakers, who will be back in action on Monday night when they host the Warriors (10:30 p.m. ET -- Watch on FuboTV with NBA League Pass extension).,The team is already without LeBron James, and are just 5-8 since their leading man went down with a groin injury.
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.
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.
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.
Kyle Kuzma scored a career-high 41 points in three quarters against his childhood team, joining some rarified company in the process.,Kuzma had 22 points in the third quarter, hitting four 3-pointers to get the crowd on its feet and scoring on consecutive goaltending calls.,Detroit's Blake Griffin, averaging a career-high 25.3 points per game, was held to 16.,Ball hit a 3-pointer and Kuzma had five points before James came on the court to cheer his teammates during a timeout.,Lakers: James (left groin strain) is set to be re-evaluated Friday and won't travel with the team for its game in Utah.
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.
Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 22 points, Trey Burke added 16 and the Knicks snapped their eight-game losing streak with a 119-112 victory over Los Angeles on Friday night.,Enes Kanter scored eight of his 16 points down the stretch as the Knicks pulled away, ending their first win since Dec. 14 on an 11-3 run.,Seven players scored in double figures for New York, including 10 points in the fourth quarter from Mario Hezonja, who also had barely played since mid-December.,TIP-INS
Knicks: Frank Ntilikina played only briefly in the first half before straining his left ankle and sitting out the rest of the game.,SLOW START FOR LA