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It’s been 13 years since LeBron James didn’t play in the postseason but with that now a reality, he is choosing to look ahead rather than lament the present.
After the Los Angeles Lakers were eliminated the playoffs with a 111-106 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night at Staples Center, James didn’t waste much time on the Lakers’ foibles, which have resulted in a 3-12 record since the All-Star break.
“It’s not what we signed up for. Throughout the year, things happened. Suspensions, injuries, things of that nature,” James said to reporters after the loss to the Nets. “And just not being able to play sustainable basketball for 48 minutes. But you don’t even try to wrap your head around it, you just keep pushing. Just try to get better tonight, move onto tomorrow, and go from there.”
Now 31-41, the Lakers need to go 4-6 to match their 35-47 mark of last season. Coach Luke Walton said even though Los Angeles will miss the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season, the Lakers have an obligation to give their best effort down the stretch of what amounts to meaningless games.
“It’s going to be that message every day for the final three weeks,” Walton said. “It’s still about players getting better. It’s still about going out there and respecting the game and giving everything we have to try to win. We owe that, like I said, to ourselves, our teammates, the organization, to the fans.”
James, whose absence with a left groin injury suffered during a Christmas Day victory at Golden State, said he wants to play as much as possible in the final 10 games of his age-35 season. LA’s now-six-season absence of playoff participation is easily the longest streak in the 16-time NBA champion franchise’s history. The Lakers had only missed the playoffs five times in their first 55 seasons of existence before this current drought.
“I’m probably going to have a conversation with the coaching staff and my trainer and go from there,” he said. “But I love to hoop. (Crap), I’m going to have five months and not play the game.
“So, you know, hopefully, I can be in as many games as possible.”