Nothing has seemed to go well for the Los Angeles Lakers in the second half of the 2018-19 NBA season. Despite having LeBron James return from his groin injury, the Lakers still continue to struggle and can’t find their way back to the playoff race. After losing four of their last five games, the Lakers dropped down the Western Conference standings and are currently sitting in the eleventh spot with a 29-31 record.
To make things worse for the Lakers, their last two defeats were against the teams – the New Orleans Pelicans and the Memphis Grizzlies – who aren’t even considered as legitimate playoff contenders in the deep Western Conference. After a 110-105 loss to the Grizzlies on Monday night, LeBron James had some words for his teammates, claiming their performances are being affected by distractions, per Sam Amico of Amico Hoops.
“At this point, if you are still allowing distractions to affect the way you play, then this is the wrong franchise to be a part of,” James said. “And you should just come and say, ‘I can’t do this.’ Like, seriously. If you’re distracted by playoff pushes, out of all the stuff that’s been talked about this year, nah. Just come and do your job. That’s what you want. That’s what you want every game. You want to feel like you’re fighting for something.”
Four of the Lakers’ starters scored in double-digits against the Grizzlies. LeBron James finished the game with a triple-double, 24 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists. Brandon Ingram posted a game-high 32 points, while Kyle Kuzma and Reggie Bullock added 22 points and 14 points, respectively. However, the Lakers’ bench was a disaster as they only contributed seven points. The Lakers are also noticeably struggling when James is off the floor.
— USA TODAY NBA (@usatodaynba) February 25, 2019
It’s not the first time LeBron James called out his teammates. After losing against the Anthony Davis-less Pelicans, James questioned the Lakers’ experience and sense of urgency, telling his teammates to get out of their comfort zone and exert more effort on both ends of the floor. No one can blame James for expressing his frustration with his current team.
The Lakers haven’t been the same since they became the center of trade rumors before the February NBA trade deadline. However, James has had some contribution to their recent struggles. Despite posting a triple-double in their game against the Grizzlies, James had five turnovers and went 8-of-23 from the field and 0-of-4 from beyond the arc.
After suffering back-to-back losses, the Lakers will have a tough road toward returning to the Western Conference Playoffs this season. There are only have 22 games left in the 2018-19 NBA season, and most of those games are against legitimate playoff contenders from the Eastern and Western Conferences. The Lakers’ next game will be against the Pelicans on Wednesday night at Staples Center.