After their 108-90 loss to the reigning Western Conference champions, the Lakers are back at .500 with a 16-16 record in 32 games.

This is their third loss in a row and comes on the heels of three straight wins, a testament to their inconsistency this season in which they haven’t won or lost more than three games in a row.

NBA League Pass: Sign up to unlock games outside the live market (7-day free trial)

A big reason for the bumpy nature of his 2023-22 campaign thus far has been injuries or player absences, either due to protocols or suspensions. The team has not been completely healthy at any point this season, which is why it was forced to field 17 different starting lineups during the first nine weeks of the season.

And against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night, things could have gotten a lot worse. Midway through the third quarter, LeBron James landed on Jae Crowder’s foot and appeared to have seriously injured his ankle. Staying down for a while, he even hit the floor probably out of frustration.

Fortunately, for the Lakers, he seemed fine after tightening the laces on his left shoe and played nine more minutes in the game.

“I’ll be ready for the next game,” James said after the game as he downplayed any major concerns regarding his ankle.

The four-time former league MVP scored 34 points on an incredible 13-of-19 shooting from the field, but was helpless.

Although Russell Westbrook finished with 22 points, the RPG quartet of Talen Horton-Tucker, Carmelo Anthony, Isaiah Thomas and Wayne Ellington scored a combined 16 points on a combined 5 of 35 shooting from the field, including 2 of 22. from beyond. the arc.

Until James is on the court, the Lakers will always be in contention for a win, regardless of their opponent.

The team’s next opponent is the San Antonio Spurs, whom the Lakers welcome after a day off. After that game is the Christmas Day marquee contest against the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday.