Sport

LeBron James, Anthony Davis can only watch as Lakers fall out of play-in spot

DALLAS — Luka Doncic scored 34 points in a triple-double and the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Lakers 128-110 on Tuesday night, with Los Angeles missing LeBron James with an ankle problem while waiting for the return of long-injured Anthony Davis.

James and Davis did not play after being ruled doubtful, which was actually an upgrade for Davis. The eight-time All-Star has not played since Feb. 16 due to a right metatarsal sprain. His first full training session since the injury took place in Dallas on Monday.

The question is when the superstars, who have only played 21 games together this season, will return. The Lakers (31-44) are tied with San Antonio for the final play-in spot in the Western Conference with seven games remaining for both teams, though the Spurs have the tiebreaker.

Lakers coach Frank Vogel offered non-binding comment on the status of James and Davis for the finale of a three-game road trip in Utah on Thursday. LA completes a consecutive Friday at home against New Orleans. The Pelicans are ninth in the West, a game ahead of the Lakers and Spurs.

“Without these guys, we have a talent deficit, so focus and execution have to make up for that,” Vogel said. “This is just the final dose of adversity faced by this year’s team. If you lose ‘Bron, OK, you’ll have to readjust during a season full of setbacks.

LeBron James sits on the bench during the Lakers' 128-110 loss to the Mavericks.
LeBron James sits on the bench during the Lakers’ 128-110 loss to the Mavericks.
AP

Malik Monk scored 28 points and Russell Westbrook had 25 for the Lakers, who had lost their third straight loss for their fifth losing streak for at least as long in the past two months, as part of a steady .500 slide for the 2020 champions.

Doncic had 25 points in the first half as Dallas hit a season-high 82 for a 26-point lead. He finished with 12 rebounds and 12 assists.

The 23-year-old star secured his first triple-double in nearly two months and finished 10th of the season with an offensive rebound on a layup that earned him 32 points and leveled Dallas 101-65 with 6:58 in the third quarter. Doncic sat in fourth place.

Maxi Kleber capped an 11-0 run in the last 84 seconds of the first quarter with a coast-to-coast layup just before the buzzer. Dallas shot 64% for a 43-25 lead.

One of the few times LA tried to defend the 3-pointer, Spencer Dinwiddie was fouled on a 3 that gave Dallas a 63-33 lead in the second quarter. He missed the free throw. Dallas was 11 of 19 of 3 after Dinwiddie’s make and finished with a season-high 20 in 46 tries.

“We respect who they are,” said Dallas coach Jason Kidd. “You are dangerous. (Monk) played well. Russ played well. We took care of the business from the beginning. I think these guys set the tone. Three great quarters of basketball.”

https://nypost.com/2022/03/30/lebron-james-anthony-davis-only-can-watch-as-lakers-fall-out-of-play-in-spot/ LeBron James, Anthony Davis can only watch as Lakers fall out of play-in spot

JOE HERNANDEZ

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