Los Angeles Times

Lakers open homestand with loss to Minnesota


Ham said they are aware of where they stand in the race for a top-10 spot in the West.

“I tell the team, ‘The first order of business is to take care of our own business.’ It doesn’t matter what the standings say if we’re letting games slip away or not doing what we need to do to make sure we’re in a position to take advantage of an opportunit­y,” Ham said. “So, that’s the biggest thing for us. We just need to focus on our business and everything else will fall into place like it should.”

It won’t be easy for the Lakers without James.

He has started his rehabilita­tion, doing all he can to get back into the Lakers lineup to help them in their quest to at least reach the play-in games.

“There is no update and his situation is what it is,” Ham said. “And if it wasn’t for him and his play, we wouldn’t be this close to have a chance to improve going forward. So, just want him to take his time and be aligned with the medical staff and do what he needs to do to get back as quickly as possible. …We have to step up, all of us.”

The Lakers will get Russell back sooner than James, but when that will happen remains uncertain.

Russell started some “play groups” on Friday, Ham said, and still is working his way back.

“We don’t want to have a guy go from not playing an NBA game to throwing him back out there,”

Ham said.

Unfortunat­ely for Russell, he missed playing against his former team. The Lakers acquired Russell from Minnesota to be their point guard. But his new Lakers teammates, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt, both played on the Timberwolv­es’ team that made the playoffs last season with Russell.

Beasley and Vanderbilt were traded to the Jazz last summer, and they were acquired by the Lakers last month.

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