For the first time since LeBron James‘ rookie campaign, he’s playing for a team that sits 11 games under the .500 mark. The Los Angeles Lakers‘ downward spiral has pushed them toward having to dig out of the play-in tournament to secure a playoff position.
The 18-time All-Star is performing at an elite level while rejecting losing hope despite the disappointing circumstances. However, James can no longer ignore the devastating truth about the Lakers.
Lakers fall to disappointing loss against the Timberwolves
The Lakers dropped to a third straight loss after a disappointing performance against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Minnesota dictated the pace of the contest, quickly jumping out to a double-digit advantage. Los Angeles didn’t have a response defensively, as the Timberwolves pushed the lead to as much as 25 points.
The Lakers allowed north of 30 points in three of the four quarters, while they shot 41.9% from the floor and 22.2% from three-point range. Despite cutting the deficit to four points in the final period, their lackluster defense became too much to overcome.
Beyond that, the latest defeat showcased another shining example of LeBron James pushing back against facing the harsh reality.
LeBron James refuses to acknowledge the crushing truth about the Lakers
The Lakers’ disappointing defeat to the Timberwolves not only pushed them further to a fate of participating in the play-in tournament but underlined the stark reality.
Los Angeles’ best-case scenario remains playing in the 9th seed vs. 10th seed matchup to compete for a shot to grab the No. 8 spot. As much as the Lakers hold higher aspirations, the team has no chance to move up any further than that.
Beyond that, Wednesday’s loss emphasized the crushing fate that LeBron James continues to ignore. After the contest, the four-time league MVP showed visible frustration while keying in on the Lakers not making shots as the reason his team fell short.
“No, I thought we had an edge tonight, we just didn’t make shots,” James said via Lakers Nation. “Like you said, we started the game 0-for-10 but we climbed back into the game all game. We outscored them 31-19 in the third but it still boils down to making shots and we didn’t make enough shots consistently tonight but I thought our effort, I thought the way we played, I thought our commitment to the defensive end holding them to 44% shooting, they made 17 threes compared to our 10 and that was part of the game.”
The 37-year-old can attempt to paint the picture that the Lakers aren’t simply not making shots, but the issues are more profound than that. Los Angeles is a porous team defensively, even more so without Anthony Davis. They have allowed more than 125 points on five occasions in the last 10 contests. That includes marking the first time James has trailed by at least 25 points in three consecutive games.
James’ true assessment of the Lakers came after Sunday’s blowout loss against the Phoenix Suns, where he voiced that Davis’ return only places a “band-aid” over their deficiencies.
“It puts a Band-Aid on some things, but, I mean, we just haven’t had enough chemistry, enough time with our group to be able to know exactly who we are and who we can become,” James said via The LA Times. It’s going to be challenging for us. AD definitely helps, but it’s not the answer to all the questions.”
After each loss, James is finding more difficult to dance around the disappointing destiny ahead.
Lakers are showing their true colors
LeBron James holds the utmost confidence, but the Lakers are destined for a first-round playoff exit at best.
The 18-time All-Star’s optimism is fluid by Davis’s potential return, but the team’s effort and performance around him are substandard. Los Angeles doesn’t possess the roster personnel to push them toward championship contention.
The Lakers aren’t showing any life defensively, while their two wins in the 11 games since the All-Star break have only come due to James recording 50-point performances. The 37-year-old remains playing at an elite level in his 19th campaign, but that is only a bright spot in a disappointing campaign.
The Lakers are what they are, and James simply doesn’t want to become relegated to that mentality. Unfortunately, he will have no choice to accept that crushing reality.