The Los Angeles Lakers have slumped to a second NBA loss in as many days after the lowly Detroit Pistons took advantage of Anthony Davis’ absence.
LeBron James made his first seven shots from the field and looked capable of leading the short-handed Lakers to victory but Detroit finished strongly to close out a 107-92 win.
James finished with 22 points and 10 assists, but only two of those points came after halftime, as the defending champions lost back-to-back games, the first losing streak of any kind for the Lakers since before last year’s playoffs.
Davis was out with a right quad contusion, and Los Angeles – who lost by a point at Philadelphia on Wednesday night – faded in the fourth quarter against the Pistons.
Blake Griffin scored 23 points for Detroit (5-14), who made it two wins in their past three games including a win over the 76ers, while the Lakers are 14-6 and third in the western conference.
James was questionable because of a left ankle sprain but he looked fine at the outset as the Lakers led 58-56 at the half.
But when James tried to become more of a facilitator he never really regained his scoring groove as Detroit took control.
“I don’t know if we ran out of gas,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said.
“We just didn’t have a great rhythm that second half in any way.”
In other action, the Los Angles Clippers used a 20-2 run in the third quarter to beat the reeling Miami Heat 109-105.
The game was bereft of star talent for the 1500 fans that were allowed back into the American Airlines Arena for the first time since March when the pandemic shot down the NBA last season.
The Clippers were again without Kawhi Leonard and Paul George because of the league’s virus protocols and Patrick Beverley with right knee soreness while the Heat, who have now lost five in a row, missed Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic.
Victor Oladipo scored 25 points to guide the Houston Rockets to a 104-101 win over the Portland Trail Blazers while the Phoenix Suns dominated the Golden State Warriors 114-93.