The Los Angeles Lakers’ hope for this season is over.
With LeBron James looking off the bench, the Lakers lost to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night, ending their chances of making the playoffs. A victory over San Antonio Springs over the Denver Nuggets earlier in the evening made the Suns’ game a mathematical imperative for the Lakers to stay in contention for the post-season.
The Lakers lost seven consecutive games, starting in late March, allowing the Spurs to record their 10th-best record in the Western Conference and a spot in the NBA playoff tournament, which would decide the seventh and eighth seeds in the playoffs. Beginning April 16.
During the Lakers’ seven-game slide, James and Anthony Davis came together only once, highlighting an issue that they’ve faced all season.
Davis returned on April 1 after missing 18 games due to a mid-foot sprain. James is managing the pain in his left leg, which has caused him to miss five of the team’s last seven games.
Since the league’s All-Star break in mid-February, the Lakers have the second-worst record in the West, winning only four games. Only Portland has done worse.
This marks the seventh time in the last nine years that the Lakers have lost the playoffs, an unimaginable limit for the organization. Prior to the 2013-14 season, the Lakers had missed the playoffs only five times since starting the franchise in Minnesota in 1948.
This is also the second time James has missed the playoffs since joining the Lakers in 2018, when he came to Los Angeles with Miami and Cleveland in the NBA Finals in that stretch.
During his first season with the Lakers, James joined a young team that included Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Alex Caruso and Kantavis Caldwell-Pope – all players who went on to productively move elsewhere. General Chat Chat Lounge
James injured his neck in a Christmas day game and played in just 55 games. The Lakers went 37-45 and finished 10th in the West, which, prior to the tournament’s arrival in the game, did not give them hope for the post-season.
They traded for Davis over the summer and immediately won a championship in 2020, when the league ended its season in a bubble environment at Walt Disney World in Florida due to podium.
Last season, which was cut short by a walk, Davis was injured and played in just 36 of 72 games. The Lakers went 42-30 and lost to the Saints in the first round as a seventh seed.
In the off-season, the Lakers find themselves in a rematch of the Championship. They traded young role players to the Washington Wizards for new-time All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook, whose $ 44 million salary made him the highest-paid player on the team this season. They hoped Westbrook’s ability to make the playoffs helped the Lakers when they were without James, who usually runs the Lakers’ offense.
“I’m coming up with a championship-caliber team and my job is to make sure I can ease his game,” Westbrook said in his introductory news conference when asked how he would fit in with James. “And I’ll find ways to do it throughout the game.”
As the season began, very little happened.
James Lakers had 11 of the first 19 games with extended injuries, the first suspension of his career and a false-positive Corona virus test.
Davis has played in just 40 games this season, missing several weeks with two different injuries – first a knee injury and then a foot injury.
Westbrook has struggled to find its footing. This has resulted in Lakers coach Frank Vogel, who has experienced the lineup all season, moving away from Westbrook in the final minutes of the game.
Westbrook has averaged 18.4 points per game since his 2009-10 season, his second year in the NBA, as well as his rebounds per game (7.5) and assists per game (7.1). Gone.
Still, in contention for the league’s scoring title with James, the Lakers had the ninth-best record in the West at the All-Star break, and had a chance to force their way into the playoffs. But they couldn’t force the demand late season.