Just days removed from the Lakers' biggest win of the season — a rout of the Golden State Warriors on their home court on Christmas Day — the team dropped its second straight game, and it caused a crack in their team camaraderie.
"I felt like we kind of started to splinter a little bit while it was happening," Lakers coach Luke Walton said of the LA Clippers' 22-0 run that propelled them to a 118-107 win over the Lakers on Friday night. "That can't happen. We can lose games, but we'll lose them together. When we win them, we'll win them together. No matter what's happening on the court, we have to stay together and keep working and figure it out."
The Lakers' past two losses came without LeBron James, Rajon Rondo and JaVale McGee — three of their key veterans. James' teams have now lost 13 straight games when he hasn't played, according to data compiled by ESPN Stats & Information.
James, who came into Staples Center drinking a glass of red wine, was on the bench for Friday's game in street clothes, as were Rondo and McGee. Although the trio was still vocal as the Clippers erased a 10-point deficit midway through the third quarter to run away with the victory, Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball said it was different than talking to them on the court when they're also in uniform.