Anthony Davis does not believe the Los Angeles Lakers are suffering a "championship hangover" since their NBA Cup success despite another defeat against the New York Knicks.
A big night from LeBron James, who had 25 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds in a triple-double for the Lakers, was backed up by 32 points and 14 rebounds from Davis at Crypto.com Arena.
But New York's Jalen Brunson scored 29 points, Julius Randle had 27 points and 14 rebounds, and Immanuel Quickley added 20 points as the Knicks prevailed 114-109 on Monday, improving to 15-11.
It was the Lakers' third loss in four games since winning the inaugural In-Season Tournament.
The team unveiled their championship banner for the NBA Cup success ahead of the game and Davis is not overly concerned about their post-tournament slump.
"I mean, we are not losing by 20," Davis said. "We are in every game, we are fighting, competing, playing hard.
"I don't think it's a championship hangover. I don't think that it's one of those.
"We go in and have a battle against Dallas. Win against San Antonio. And then obviously let one slip away again against them.
"And then a fight tonight. I don't think it’s one of those things where we are hungover from the in-season tournament.
"It's tough, because for the whole month of December, we've basically been on the road.
"There's nothing we can really do about it. It's the schedule. We've just got to take care of our bodies and get some guys back, hopefully in the next couple of games. But it's definitely a mental challenge."
THE BURNER. pic.twitter.com/v712yorsvZ— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) December 19, 2023
LeBron, meanwhile, felt the tournament may have been one of many factors in a difficult spell, pointing out the runner-up Indiana Pacers are 1-4 since losing to the Lakers in the championship game.
He said: "It could be a little bit of everything, I don't know. Have you seen Indiana's record since Vegas?
"I feel like our energy was up and down throughout the course of the game.
"We've been feeling it, definitely. Even through that, we still competed and gave ourselves a chance, but it's a tough one for us."
James enjoyed seeing the banner unveiled and still has fond memories of the tournament, for which he was named the MVP.
He added: "I think it's awesome. To be able to acknowledge wins throughout the course of a marathon, that's pretty cool.
"That's the first, the inauguration of it. We were able to win it. So, for our fans that didn't get an opportunity to be in Vegas, they got an opportunity to kind of share that celebration with us, share that moment, something that will live on forever for sure here. So, it was a good moment."
Coach Darvin Ham was happy to reflect on the NBA Cup success, with the Lakers (15-12) now preparing for a three-game road trip that starts against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday.
"It's great for the organization," he said.
"Obviously, [the tournament is] something that's going to be around. It's only going to get bigger and better.
"I think it's really, really cool that we're doing that. Especially being the first to win the inaugural in-season tourney.
"It's been a great shot in the arm in terms of us rising to the occasion from a competitive standpoint and it furthermore creates and sustains a foundation that we're trying to set in terms of getting through the regular season and then, ultimately, into the playoffs.
"I think it's huge. The intensity in which everyone played. You could feel it. It's great.
"Anytime you can get highly competitive basketball with the best athletes in the world, I think it's great for the fans, great for the organizations and ultimately great for the NBA.
"Now we have just got to push through this time. It's normally like that in December and January. So, we will be fine, we will watch it on film as we prepare to also get ready for this three-game trip."
Los Angeles is eighth in the Western Conference and also faces Minnesota and Oklahoma City this week after their game in Chicago.
LeBron added: "We want to finish out December the right way. Obviously, it's been a killer for us with the travel and games and things of that nature. There is no rest for the weary.
"We just got to mentally stay locked in and get ready for Chicago first."