LeBron James hit 11-of-19 shots on his way to 27 points and eight assists, but he was one of the few bright spots as the Los Angeles Lakers fell to the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks by 15 points on Tuesday night.
After an impressive comeback victory over the New York Knicks, the Lakers had the opportunity to show some improvement against one of the NBA’s best teams. But instead, they laid an egg on their home floor.
The Lakers were down 14 points after the first and 22 at the half as they gave up 78 points in the first half to a Bucks team who were able to get any shot they wanted all night long. Giannis Antetokounmpo outdueled both LeBron and Anthony Davis on this night, and the Bucks showed the difference between a championship contender and a team struggling to make the playoffs.
After a rough start, the Bucks are now looking like a title favorite and James himself understands the Lakers aren’t there right now.
“It tells us we ain’t on their level. I could’ve told you that before the game started,” James said.
When asked if the Lakers can reach the Bucks’ level, James had an interesting answer.
“Where they are right now? I don’t know. Do I think we can reach the level where Milwaukee is right now? No. Is that what you want to hear from me? No. You want a follow-up? I would hope [we can reach their level], but right now, no. We can’t get to where they are right now. They’re the defending champions for a reason and I guarantee you if you would’ve asked teams coming out of the bubble if they could get to the level that we were playing at when we won a championship, they would’ve said the same thing.”
The Lakers have been hovering around the .500 level all season long and the team has been unable to sustain any high level of play for more than a couple of quarters. Even with James and Davis, who has been outstanding since his return from injury, back in the lineup, the Lakers have been unable to consistently play at a high level.
Many will point to the team’s constant shuffling of lineups and rotations as an issue as it has made it difficult to develop any kind of chemistry. Obviously much of that has to do with the injuries that have destroyed the team, but James was unwilling to use that as any sort of excuse.
“At the end of the day, you still got to go out and do your damn job. No matter what lineup is out there, you still got to go out and do your job. You still got to try to figure things out, we’re all trying to figure it out, including the coaching staff.”
Regardless of the reasons why, the Lakers have underwhelmed and disappointed for the majority of the season and LeBron understands that. James and the rest of the Lakers will do everything possible to get to that level they desire to be at, but as it stands, they are clearly below the NBA’s elite.
James says Lakers will explore any options to improve at trade deadline
With the team continuing to underwhelm, all eyes will be on the Lakers front office as the trade deadline approaches.
While James is ready to go to battle with this current roster, he knows the team has to explore any options to improve.
“I’ve always felt like, listen, I really don’t like to play fantasy basketball, so this is the group that we have going into the deadline and we’ll be ready to take on all challenges that this season has given us,” James said, before adding: “If there’s an opportunity, I’ve said this every year, if there’s an opportunity for us to get better, then we’ll explore those options.”
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