Staggering footage of LeBron James in $126m Lakers debacle

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·Sports Reporter
·5-min read
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  • Los Angeles Lakers
    Los Angeles Lakers
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Russell Westbrook
    Russell Westbrook
    American basketball player
  • LeBron James
    LeBron James
    American basketball player
  • Kevin Durant
    Kevin Durant
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
The Lakers have struggled to achieve chemistry between LeBron James and Russell Westbrook, after making a big trade for the former MVP in the off-season. Pictures: Getty IMages/ESPN
The Lakers have struggled to achieve chemistry between LeBron James and Russell Westbrook, after making a big trade for the former MVP in the off-season. Pictures: Getty IMages/ESPN

The Los Angeles Lakers' disastrous loss on Christmas Day has once again prompted calls for the team to make a drastic move in order to stay competitive.

After winning the NBA championship in 2020, the Lakers fell short last season thanks to injury before trading away their core of role player for former MVP point guard Russell Westbrook.

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There was no more telling sign of the Lakers still attempting to figure out some chemistry than a crucial play in their loss to the Nets with just under 30 second left to play.

Trailing the Nets 118-115, Westbrook made a powerful drive to the basket, but was swarmed by three Brooklyn defenders.

Instead of passing to a wide open LeBron James in the corner, Westbrook attempted to finish the layup.

He missed both the layup and James, who was jumping in the corner with his hands in the air.

Instead, the Nets got what ended up being a crucial stop and claimed an impressive 122-115 win on the road.

Though the Lakers weren't helped by a terrific Patty Mills performance (34 points, seven assists, eight three-pointers), the debate around whether Westbrook was a good fit alongside James broke out once again after the loss.

While he remains one of the league's best point guards, his time in Los Angeles has shone a spotlight on his decision making and defensive effort.

A clip of Westbrook losing track of Mills, giving up a wide-open three, prompted the Ringer's Kevin O'Connor to call for a trade - which by his own admission would be an unlikely event.

The Lakers should explore every possibility to trade Russell Westbrook. Russ will never win a championship with this aloof defense. Not to mention his reckless shot selection," O'Connor posted on Twitter. 

"And it's been happening his whole career, even in big moments of playoff games. Russ will never change.

"Any move involving Westbrook is just so unlikely though and the Lakers have bigger roster issues. And with changes around the edges, Westbrook still needs to evolve to win. 

"Focus hard on defense. Limit shots, and at some point in the playoffs, screen for LeBron. He has it in him."

Other teams wanting to trade for Westbrook is unlikely in the short term as well, with most expected to be reluctant to absorb the two years and $91 million (A$126m) remaining on his contract.

After winning the MVP in 2016, Westbrook has bounced from the OKC Thunder to Houston, and then to Washington before he was acquired by the Lakers.

Nets claim impressive Christmas Day win over Lakers

The Nets were returning from a week-long hiatus with three games postponed and were still without superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, among others.

In his 13th NBA season, 33-year-old Mills matched his previous best individual game tally set way back in the 2011-12 season when with San Antonio.

Harden finished with 36 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, the last a late lob that Nic Claxton caught to score while soaring over James, who had just helped Los Angeles erase a 20-point deficit.

James' 39 points took him past Kobe Bryant for most career points on Christmas Day, but it was not enough to stop the Lakers' losing streak reaching five.

Patty Mills dominated in the Brooklyn Nets' Christmas Day win over the Lakers. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Patty Mills dominated in the Brooklyn Nets' Christmas Day win over the Lakers. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

Earlier in Phoenix, Stephen Curry led short-handed Golden State to a 116-107 win over the Phoenix Suns in a clash of teams with the best season records.

The Warriors arrived without three of their top four scorers out under COVID protocols - Andrew Wiggins, Damion Lee and Jordan Poole.

Curry (30 points) carried most of the load, overcoming a mediocre shooting night as the Warriors (27-6) passed the Suns (26-6) for top spot in the western conference standings.

Chris Paul had 21 points and eight assists for the Suns to take up some of the slack from leading scorer Devin Booker, who was held to 13 points.

In Milwaukee, Giannis Antetokounmpo returned from COVID-19 protocols to score 36 points as reigning champions Milwaukee snatched a 117-103 win over the Boston Celtics.

In his first game since December 12, two-time NBA MVP Antetokounmpo played 30 minutes and connected on 13 of 23 shots.

In New York, Kemba Walker became the seventh NBA player to record a triple-double on Christmas Day, as his New York Knicks beat the depleted Atlanta Hawks 101-87 for their first win on the holiday in a decade.

Walker finished with 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds and Julius Randle had 25 points and 12 rebounds.

With AAP

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