With their third win in the last four games, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers played spoiler against Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Hornets.
As James is undefeated against Walker through 28 games, the Hornets are two games back of the Miami Heat for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
And with only seven games remaining in the 2018-19 NBA season, the Hornets only have a 14.5% chance of making the playoffs according to Basketball-Reference.
For James, who returned after not playing against the Utah Jazz, revealed decreasing those chances was a motivating factor for him and the Lakers following their 129-115 win.
“Yeah, that was on our minds tonight,” James acknowledged.
“We would love to see a couple of those guys on the same vacation trips as us.”
As Walker is on the brink of missing the playoffs for the sixth time in his eight-year career, it is fair to question his future with the Hornets. With the 28-year-old set to become a free agent, making one of the three All-NBA teams will likely play a major factor.
If Walker makes it, he will be eligible for a five-year, $221.3 million supermax deal. If not, he will only be eligible for a five-year, $189.7 million deal and could leave.
While the Lakers will likely target Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, or Kyrie Irving first, these top free agents will reportedly re-sign with their current teams or sign elsewhere.
With $38 million in cap space, the Lakers are looking to add a second All-Star player alongside James. Whether it is through free agency or trading the young core, all of the pressure will be on president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka to deliver.