the Lakers in front of a huge disappointment
Los Angeles (AFP) – Anthony Davis too often injured, Russell Westbrook lost on the field, LeBron James on top but too alone: the Lakers, who were aiming for nothing other than the NBA title, could not even play in the play-offs as they are deliquescent .
« Lakers outraged! Lakers shattered! Lakers martyred! ». Lakers eliminated? Seven games from the end of the regular season, this scenario, unimaginable at the start of the championship, could come true as the 2020 champion is in bad shape.
Because after the heavy defeat conceded to Dallas (128-110) on Tuesday, LA found itself for the first time in 11th place, outside the play-off zone which allows teams ranked 10th to 7th place to hope to reach the play offs.
« We just didn’t play well, not with enough toughness, intelligence, concentration and desire. It’s unacceptable, we were bad at all levels, the coaches, the players, everyone world, » railed coach Frank Vogel, adding in a helpless admission: « We’re not good enough, not even in training. »
When we see the mediocrity of the game offered since the beginning of the year – « LeBron-dependence » in attack, chronic passivity in defense -, and the full-bodied program that awaits them against Utah (5th), La Nouvelle- Orleans (9th), Denver (6th), Phoenix (1st), Golden State (4th), Oklahoma City (14th) and even Denver, the Californian franchise, admittedly ironed 10th Wednesday after the defeat of San Antonio against Memphis, could not avoid the industrial accident.
Especially since if James achieves an exceptional season at 37 in terms of scoring – leader in the standings with 30.1 points per game, he could become the oldest leading scorer in a regular season, ahead of Michael Jordan who had 35 years in 1998 — he pays a certain price on the physical level.
His labors of Hercules, to save what can be saved, mean that he does not save himself (37.2 min on average, 3rd most used player in the NBA). So sometimes his left knee, plagued by recurring swelling, forces him to miss a game and since Sunday it is his left ankle, victim of a twist against the Pelicans, which makes him suffer.
That’s why he was in civilian clothes in Dallas, like Anthony Davis and his rose-tinted hippie glasses, to perhaps see life better that way.
The interior, essential to the cog of the Lakers to be the best defender and the second offensive weapon, has been missing for a month and a half due to a sprained right foot, after having already missed 17 games in a row at the start of the season. year because of a sprained left knee.
Some media announce it back at the end of the week. However, the urgency of the situation means that there is a real risk of aggravating an injury for this player, whose fragility is notorious.
« They’re over »
« It’s just one of those years… These things are out of our control, it’s unfortunate, » laments Frank Vogel, fatalistic.
Certainly. But there is also the overall weakness of a very reorganized workforce in the off-season, symbolized by Russell Westbrook, a player with crazy energy, king of the triple-double, but also subject to repeated blunders. But it is this second facet of his game that he has often been given to see this season. And the mockery raining down on the star paid $44 million.
Finally, it is above all the state of mind that afflicts fans and observers. Many defeats have been stinging, even humiliating, unworthy of the team which had made defense the bedrock of its coronation in 2020.
For Shaquille O’Neal, former glory of the club, it’s simple: « They don’t want it, they’re finished ».
LA can nevertheless still hang these dams constituting from now on its lifeline. Which would be a sweet irony, because last year, LeBron James castigated the establishment of the « play-in ». « Whoever invented this thing must be fired, » he said, furious that his Lakers, 7th at the end of the regular season, had to go through it to reach the play-offs.
This time, very happy that these dams exist, otherwise he would already be on vacation.
It can still be postponed. Otherwise, to console themselves, fans can always fall back on « Winning Time », the remarkable series on the « showtime » years of the Lakers, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar period.
© 2022 AFP