National Basketball Association wrap: Lakers survive Balls gaffe to beat Thunder in OT

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James has now missed 11 games since sustaining the groin strain during the Los Angeles Lakers' 127-101 win over the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day.

So, James is basically walking through shooting drills.

Things haven't been going well for Luke Walton and the Lakers lately. He was cleared to ramp up his basketball activities last week and he's barely moved beyond that in that same amount of time. Ball intentionally fouled Westbrook, hoping to get him on the floor before the shot and prevent OKC from getting a look from distance.

Up 122-119 with less than five seconds to play, the Lakers wanted to foul and take the three-point possibility out of the Thunder's hands.

Coming back from slow starts have been an issue for the Lakers without LeBron James, but they really performed well after the slow start. Russell Westbrook had 26 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds for the Thunder, but he shot just 7 of 30. "Told my teammates I got them for the next five minutes, and I feel like I did pretty good".

Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen scored 27 points on 10-of-18 shooting with 10 rebounds in Chicago's 135-105 loss to the Denver Nuggets.

"He's going to miss more games, although he could play now and if it gets dire I suppose he could get back".

The Los Angeles Lakers have been looking to make a trade before the February 7 deadline and have been linked with numerous players since the season began in October.

Lauded for its focus against inferior teams in the early season, the Thunder's concentration and execution has been non-existent in these last two games. Los Angeles boasts a 3-7 record since James suffered said injury in a blowout win over the Warriors.

"For him to do that against Westbrook - I'm sure a player he watched growing up as one of the great point guards in our league - not only to score those points, but a couple of big assists to Zu coming down the lane, a big-time rebound".

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