LeBron James Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on from the bench after he was hurt against the Golden State Warriors during the second half of their NBA Basketball game at ORACLE Arena on December 25, 2018 in Oakland, California. Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers were only able to hold onto a playoff spot for so long without the NBA’s best player. After playing 11 games without LeBron James, the team no longer is one of the Western Conference’s top eight seeds.

The Lakers didn’t have a game Wednesday, but the Utah Jazz defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 129-109. It broke the tie between Los Angeles and Utah for the No.8 seed. Utah has climbed into the playoff picture with seven wins in their last eight games.

With James nursing a groin injury, the Lakers have gone 4-7. They started the year 20-14, culminating with their upset win over the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day. That’s when James got hurt and the Lakers started performing like one of the worst teams in the West.

It will still be a little while before James can get back on the court. He’s going to miss the team’s two-game road trip against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets, both of whom are ahead of the Lakers in the standings. James has been cleared to return to practice next week, meaning he will likely miss at least part of Los Angeles’ four-game homestand that begins on Jan. 21.

Rajon Rondo has also been out with an injured hand.

Los Angeles’ young players haven’t exactly stepped up in James’ absence. Kyle Kuzma is leading the Lakers with 19.0 points per game in January, though he’s needed 17.3 shots per game to do so. Brandon Ingram is averaging 17.9 points on 15.9 shots per game while shooting 22.2 percent from three-point range this month.

Lonzo Ball has scored seven points or fewer in four of the last eight games.

Golden State has taken over the No.1 seed in the West, and they’ve got a one-game lead over the Denver Nuggets. The rest of the conference remains very tight with the No.3-No.8 seeds separated by just 2.5 games.

The Lakers are a half-game behind the No.8 seed Jazz and only three games in the loss column ahead of the No.13 seed Dallas Mavericks.