With the Los Angeles Lakers all but mathematically eliminated from the NBA Playoffs, there’s been a lack of consistent effort even as the team got healthy prior to and after the All-Star break.
Now the Lakers are dealing with another rash of injuries, as Lonzo Ball remains out because of a sprained ankle/bone bruise, Brandon Ingram was shut down for the remainder of the season, Tyson Chandler is bothered by a neck issue and Lance Stephenson is suffering from a sprained toe.
Kyle Kuzma returned from a sprained right ankle that caused him to miss two games, and after a bit of a slow start finished with 21 points in a comeback win against the Chicago Bulls.
The Lakers trailed by 18 points at the end of the first quarter and saw their deficit increase to 20 early in the second quarter. LeBron James then began to assert himself, spearheading
While the Lakers don’t have much to play for, James explained how is approach is to continue giving his all, and shared what benefit the young core can take from some of the remaining games, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“I don’t talk about [being professional]. That’s what I live. You guys ask me questions, I answer questions, but I live being professional. I live playing every game like it’s my last. And no matter what’s going on, you finish out strong. That’s just who I am. … We’re still playing playoff teams. For our young guys to be able to play playoff teams on the road, I think it’s very key for their development still. We have an opportunity on this road trip. We go into Toronto our next game. We go into Detroit, who’s a playoff team. We go into Milwaukee at the end of the trip. All playoff teams, all proven teams. Those games will be like playoff games, if we want it to be. They’ll get an opportunity to learn, and I get an opportunity on the floor with them, so we can take that out of it for sure.”
James’ comments echo the sentiment he expressed when discussing the possibility of being shut down for the rest of the season. While that didn’t come to fruition, the Lakers are being more conservative in the number of minutes he plays on a nightly basis.
Meanwhile, with Ball and Ingram sidelined, the final stretch of games is primarily serving as a learning experience for the likes of Josh Hart, Kuzma and Moritz Wagner.