Tue. Jan 22nd, 2019

LeBron James: Luke Walton makes ‘exciting’ claim about Lakers with superstar out injured

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That’s the claim of Lakers head coach Luke Walton, who believes there is still plenty for his team to learn.

LA reached the half-way mark of the regular season with a 22-19 record, although their record has been soured since LeBron went down injured on Christmas Day – with the Lakers going just 2-5 since.

That has seen them sink down to eighth in the Western Conference although the return of four-time MVP LeBron should help ensure they end a five-year post-season drought. 

And while their form has fallen off somewhat without talisman LeBron, whose presence at Staples Center it is hoped can restore the Lakers as a genuine championship contender again, Walton believes the Lakers are on the right path.

Yet the 38-year-old also thinks the Lakers’ true quality as a team is not yet known having been without players such as Rajon Rondo for large periods of the season.

“We know that when we’re at our best, we’re a really good team,” Walton said ahead of the Lakers’ clash with the Detroit Pistons tonight (7.30pm PST/3.30am UK time).

“We’re a team that can hang our hat on playing defense and getting stops. 

“We’re good when we get out and run. LeBron James is really good. And there’s still a ton of unknown.

“Really, there’s probably more unknown than there is known, just because of the amount of injuries we’ve gone through and the different lineups.

“Even with the suspensions of trying to get the continuity of who plays, what match-ups are playing well together. 

“I think it’s exciting that we’re where we’re at and we still have so much room to grow.

“I would have said we are what we’re supposed to be and I’m very pleased with where we’re at right now. 

“I think our record is probably a little better than I thought it would have been earlier, pre-LeBron getting hurt. And now, where it’s at, we’ve got some work to do and we know that.

“To me that’s exciting, that opportunity of, ‘Hey, we’re in this dogfight and we’ve had great moments and we’ve had awful moments.’ 

“Like we’ve said, we’ve got a lot to learn about ourselves still and that we’ve got a lot of room for growth and I think our team will accept that challenge and opportunity and we’ll have a good end of the season.”

And LeBron – speaking in an exclusive interview with ESPN over the festive period – explained that the Lakers must win if they are to add more star pieces to their roster in the offseason and increase their chances of rivalling the Golden State Warriors for the title.

He said: “I tried to recruit so many guys to come to Cleveland. I had a couple guys, and it just didn’t work out.

“It wasn’t hard getting guys in Miami, I’ll tell you that. So now that I think being in LA, I don’t think it would be that hard to get guys here. 

“But we gotta win. At the end of the day, it’s all about winning. So that’s my job right now is to show everybody that I can win, with whatever.”

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