The Los Angeles Lakers’ final glimmer of hope for this season is gone.
With LeBron James watching from the bench, the Lakers misplaced to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday evening, ending their possibilities of making the playoffs. A win by the San Antonio Spurs over the Denver Nuggets earlier within the night made the Suns sport a mathematical must-win for the Lakers to remain in competition for the postseason.
The Lakers misplaced seven consecutive video games starting in late March, permitting the Spurs to eclipse them for the Tenth-best report within the Western Convention and a spot within the NBA’s play-in event, which can resolve the seventh and eighth seeds within the playoffs that start April 16.
Through the Lakers’ seven-game slide, James and Anthony Davis performed collectively solely as soon as, highlighting an issue they’ve confronted all season.
Davis returned April 1 after lacking 18 video games due to a proper mid-foot sprain. James has been managing soreness in his left ankle, which has prompted him to overlook 5 of the staff’s final seven video games.
Because the league’s All-Star break in mid-February, the Lakers have the second-worst report within the West, having gained solely 4 video games. Solely Portland has been worse.
This marks the seventh time up to now 9 years that the Lakers have missed the playoffs, a once-unthinkable stretch for the group. Earlier than the 2013-14 season, the Lakers had missed the playoffs solely 5 occasions for the reason that franchise’s inception in Minnesota in 1948.
It’s also the second time James has missed the playoffs since becoming a member of the Lakers in 2018, when he got here to Los Angeles following eight consecutive appearances within the NBA finals with Miami and Cleveland.
Throughout his first season with the Lakers, James joined a younger staff that featured Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Alex Caruso and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope — all gamers who went on to be productive elsewhere.
James injured his groin in a Christmas Day sport that season and performed in simply 55 video games. The Lakers went 37-45 and completed Tenth within the West, which, earlier than the appearance of the play-in event, gave them no postseason hopes.
They traded for Davis that summer time and instantly gained a championship in 2020, when the league completed its season in a bubble atmosphere at Walt Disney World in Florida due to the pandemic.
Final season, which was shortened due to the pandemic, Davis was injured and performed in solely 36 of the 72 video games. The Lakers went 42-30 and misplaced to the Suns within the first spherical because the seventh seed.
Within the low season, the Lakers regarded to make themselves into championship contenders once more. They traded younger function gamers to the Washington Wizards for the growing older nine-time All-Star level guard Russell Westbrook, whose $44 million wage made him the highest-paid participant on the staff this season. They hoped Westbrook’s playmaking skill would assist the Lakers once they have been with out James, who usually runs the Lakers’ offense.
“I am coming to a championship-caliber staff and my job is to guarantee that I will make his sport simpler for him,” Westbrook stated at his introductory information convention when requested about how he would match with James. “And I am going to discover methods to do this all through the sport.”
Because the season started, little or no went in accordance with plan.
James missed 11 of the Lakers’ first 19 video games due to accidents, the primary suspension of his profession and a false-positive coronavirus take a look at.
Davis has performed in solely 40 video games this season, lacking a number of weeks with two totally different accidents — first a knee harm then the foot sprain.
Westbrook has struggled to seek out his footing. That led to Lakers Coach Frank Vogel, who has experimented with lineups all season, shifting away from Westbrook within the closing minutes of video games.
Westbrook’s 18.4 factors per sport are his lowest common for the reason that 2009-10 season, his second yr within the NBA His rebounds per sport (7.5) and assists per sport (7.1) additionally dropped sharply from final season.
Nonetheless, with James in competition for the league’s scoring title, the Lakers had the ninth-best report within the West on the All-Star break, and an opportunity to drive their manner into the playoffs. However they could not make the required late-season push.