Lakers likely to be without LeBron James vs. Kings

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

While the Sacramento Kings are offering evidence that a breakthrough could be near, the Los Angeles Lakers continue to struggle on the court and with injuries.

The teams will meet Friday at Los Angeles, although Lakers star LeBron James might not be available. He is listed as doubtful to play after he left the court with 5:41 remaining in the Lakers’ Wednesday game against the Los Angeles Clippers with what turned out to be a groin injury.

James, who missed a game Monday against the Utah Jazz because of foot soreness, underwent an MRI exam on Thursday that didn’t find a serious injury.

“It’s not torn, that’s the biggest thing, that he didn’t tear anything,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said of James’ groin. “So it was good news. You know, I’m sure it’s painful. Doubtful, day-to-day, whatever — I’m just happy there wasn’t anything torn.”

James missed 18 of 19 games during the 2018-19 season when he came away from a Christmas Day game with a groin injury.

The off-kilter Lakers don’t appear equipped to succeed without James’ 24.9-point, 8.8-rebound, 6.9-assist output per game to start the season, but perhaps better balance is what they need.

“The mindset switches to just going out, being aggressive and trying to find ways to help the team win,” said fellow Lakers star Anthony Davis, who is averaging 23 points and 10.2 rebounds. “Whether it’s more shots or know it’s my job to make these guys better. It’s my job anyway. But it’s heightened when someone like LeBron is out with everything he can do on the floor.”

The Lakers are on a four-game losing streak after losing their ninth consecutive meeting with the Clippers on Wednesday. James led his team with 30 points in the 114-101 defeat, a game in which the score was tied with just over three minutes remaining in the third quarter.

The Lakers would match their season-opening five-game losing streak with a loss to the Kings.

Sacramento wasn’t much better to start the season, stumbling out to a four-game losing streak. But the Kings have won four of six since, including a 127-120 victory over the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.

Domantas Sabonis had 21 points for the Kings and Harrison Barnes had 20 after he was held scoreless over 22 minutes during a 116-113 road loss to the Golden State Warriors on Monday. The balanced Kings had seven of their nine players who saw minutes Wednesday score in double figures.

Sacramento shot 52.6 percent from the field and 43.6 percent from 3-point range while being guided by point guard De’Aaron Fox, who had 15 points and eight assists.

“We feel like we have a lot of talent on this team and every single night, we got different guys who are willing to step up, willing to make plays,” Barnes said on the NBC Sports California broadcast.

Added Kings coach Mike Brown: “Great team effort, staff was fantastic tonight, all across the board … so it feels good to get a win against a very, very good basketball team.”

Success for the Kings against the Lakers has not been all that rare of late. Sacramento has won five of the past eight meetings and three of the past four at Los Angeles. Included in last season’s split of the four games the teams played was the Kings’ 141-137 triple-overtime victory at L.A. on Nov. 26.

–Field Level Media

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