In addition to a rash of injuries that cost LeBron James and Rajon Rondo several weeks, the Los Angeles Lakers have had their season come undone in large part because of a slew of inexplicable losses to sub-.500 teams.
The latest of which came Sunday afternoon, when the New York Knicks completed a sweep of the season series. They did so with Mario Hezonja securing the win over the Lakers by blocking James’ shot on a potential game-winner.
Along with being swept by the Knicks, the Lakers have lost games to the Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Memphis Grizzlies (twice), Minnesota Timberwolves (three), New Orleans Pelicans (twice), Phoenix Suns and Washington Wizards.
In total, the Lakers have nine losses this season to teams with a worst record than they hold.
By late last year, they had developed a reputation for being capable of matching up with some of the league’s top teams. Although that’s been washed away, particularly with the aforementioned losses, James doesn’t view the defeats different from each other.
“I mean, listen, we haven’t played well versus a lot of teams; teams that have been under .500, teams that have been over .500,” James said at Madison Square Garden. “With the lack of experience closing out games, you’re going to have that. Obviously, tonight we had our group that got us the lead. We just lost the lead.
“Like I said, we couldn’t close out possessions or get enough timely buckets on the other end. But it’s been like that all year. It’s nothing different. Not a frustration. It’s all about growth. You take the good with the bad and you continue to push forward. Every game is a learning experience for our ballclub.”
“Of course it bothers me in the fact that we didn’t close the game out. Being the competitor that I am, it bothers me that I didn’t make enough plays down the stretch, it bothers me that I didn’t even get a shot up at the hoop. Of course that stuff bothers me. But, I mean, what’s the difference between their record and our record? We’re two teams out of the postseason. So there’s no difference. I mean, we’ve got a couple more wins than them but both teams are on the outside looking in.”