The Los Angeles Lakers continue to dig themselves into a hole which will become more difficult to climb out of as the NBA season shifts into its final quarter of games. Last night, once again the Lakers fell to a team under .500 on the road as the Memphis Grizzlies defeated them 110-105.  The Lakers are now two games under .500, in danger of missing the postseason after a much heralded summer of expectations led by LeBron James’ arrival.

The Lakers struggles this year can be linked to their deficiencies on the road.  With the loss in Memphis, the Lakers are 12-19 away from the Staples Center while playing to a respectable 17-12 in front of the LA spectators.

It has been a tough stretch for the purple and gold as they are a paltry 3-7 in their last 10 games and 4-10 over a 14-game span.  Since the dramatic win over the Boston Celtics prior to the All-Star break, the Lakers have dropped four consecutive games on the road. James had strong game, putting up a triple double with 24 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists.  The Lakers also received continued improvement out of Brandon Ingram who posted a team high 32 and Kyle Kuzma contributed a 22 point effort. Mike Conley paved the way for Memphis with 30 points and 5 dimes. Newly acquired Jonas Valanciunas put together a double-double performance with his 20 points and 13 boards.

Back to the Lakers - - - how did they manage to fall to the Grizzlies after receiving such standout performances on the offensive end? This only adds more credence to the view that the locker room chemistry has been fractured due to the Anthony Davis trade debacle. Add in off-the-court issues with a defense that is suspect and has lacked consistency and intensity throughout the season and you have a mediocre basketball team.

Some detractors will lay the heart of these issues at Lebron James’ feet. James was very vocal in his desire to play alongside Anthony Davis and his personal defensive effort has been lackluster for the better part. In any case, LeBron James finds himself in a peculiar situation where a team of his might miss the NBA Playoffs.  This hasn’t occurred since his sophomore season with the Cavs in the 2004-2005 season.

Ultimately, despite the Lakers’ playoff hopes looking very slim, I have to give LeBron James, the future Hall of Famer,  the benefit of the doubt and believe somehow he will lead this young core of players to a playoff berth. Granted the road does not get easier for the Lakers from here.  They have a challenging 6-game stretch ahead. While two of the contests are against the Pelicans and Hornets, the other four are against playoff bound teams in the Bucks, Clippers, Nuggets and Celtics.