LOS ANGELES — After logging 40-plus minutes for the fourth time this month solely to see the Los Angeles Lakers lose 127-124 in additional time to the Washington Wizards on Monday evening, LeBron James insisted he can deal with the workload that’s being requested of him.
“I feel this complete narrative of ‘LeBron wants extra relaxation’ or I ought to take extra relaxation or I ought to take time right here, it is grow to be lots larger than what it truly is,” James mentioned. “I’ve by no means talked about it, I do not speak about it, I do not consider in it. All of us want extra relaxation, s—. It is a quick turnaround from final season, and all of us want we might have extra relaxation. However I am right here to work, I am right here to punch my clock in and be accessible to my teammates.
“And if I am damage or if I am not feeling effectively, then we will have a look at it then. However I’ve nothing however sincere individuals [advising me], however I am additionally sincere with myself, as effectively, and me having a love for the sport and me with the ability to be accessible to my teammates is extra vital than something.”
James performed 43 minutes towards the Wizards and amassed 31 factors, 13 assists and 9 rebounds, however he admitted he wasn’t his sharpest.
He performed all however one minute and 6 seconds of the fourth quarter and additional time and scored 13 factors, however he shot 6-for-13 in doing so (0-for-4 from 3) and had 4 of his game-high eight turnovers throughout that point span. He additionally went 1-for-3 from the free throw line, together with a miss on an and-1 try that may have put L.A. up by one with 9.8 seconds remaining within the fourth quarter.
“Clearly, I take full accountability [for] lacking that free throw,” James mentioned. “I received to make the free throw up there; it is a simple level for us. However we did not lose the sport there. However I take that accountability, for positive, and I received to be higher.”
For the primary month and a half of this season, Lakers coach Frank Vogel was actually higher at managing the 18-year veteran’s minutes. Previous to February, James averaged 33.3 minutes per sport — which ranked forty third within the league and represented the least quantity of enjoying time in his profession, in response to knowledge compiled by ESPN Stats & Info.
Because the begin of the month, nonetheless, James has averaged 38.2 minutes in 11 video games — probably the most within the NBA — and L.A. is beginning to wrestle, having misplaced 4 out of its previous 5 video games since Anthony Davis aggravated his Achilles tendinosis whereas struggling a calf pressure in his proper leg towards the Denver Nuggets.
“I am not pushing myself,” mentioned the 36-year-old James, who has performed in all 32 of L.A.’s video games this season. “I would not say that. I am going out and enjoying the sport. I am doing my job, and I am attempting to do it at a excessive degree, however that is been a story across the league.
“I’ve by no means requested for break day or time all through the season. And it is rising to some extent the place it is not even coming from me anymore. It is identical to, ‘OK, LeBron ought to take break day’ or ‘Why is his workload at this?’ I have been listening to it for 5, six, seven years now, and I am nonetheless going sturdy. So I do not want a handout, I am not on the lookout for a handout; my job is to exit once I’m accessible, once I’m wholesome to exit and play, and that is what it is all about.”
James has by no means performed this condensed of a schedule, coming off only a 71-day offseason, nonetheless.
Vogel was requested if he has thought of holding James out of the lineup as a way to maintain the Lakers’ captain contemporary, with a repeat title being the group’s final objective.
“We have thought of that each one season lengthy with him. And we’ll make these selections on a game-by-game foundation,” Vogel mentioned.
L.A. guard Alex Caruso likened the Lakers’ present slide — a season-long three-game shedding streak whereas lacking Davis and level guard Dennis Schroder — to the four-game skid L.A. had a couple of third of the way in which into final season. And Lakers middle Montrezl Harrell mentioned the group’s struggles will trigger “quite a lot of soul-searching.”
As for James, the center and soul of the defending champions, Vogel lauded the job he’s doing, even whereas losses are beginning to pile up.
“He is a workhorse,” Vogel mentioned. “He is doing all the pieces he can for us.”