Christmas appointments are also one of the biggest story drivers of the year. And those who listened to the Lakers, who suffered a crushing 124-115 loss to the Mavericks in Dallas on Sunday, were tragically aware of how James’ Hall of Fame career appears to be ending in Los Angeles. I witnessed it reminding me of
James had 38 points (13-23 shooting) against Dallas, one short of a season-high set against the Spurs on November 26, and had six rebounds and six rebounds in his record-breaking 17th Christmas game. Added 5 assists. When he checked out at the 2:32 mark in the 4th quarter, the Lakers were plus 2 in his 34 minutes he played and minus 18 in his 12 minutes he sat.
The individual pluses and minuses don’t necessarily reflect the story of the game, but in this case they did.
If Anthony Davis is out indefinitely with a stress injury to his right leg, the Lakers have little chance when James is off the floor. They’ve lost four games in a row, allowing at least 124 points in each loss, and have been 1-4 since Davis’ injury, dropping to 13-20 overall and 13th in the West.
The final score didn’t indicate how close the games really were for much of the second half. are exposed.
When asked if he believed the Lakers would be resilient enough to pull themselves out of their predicament, James offered a bluntly outspoken assessment.
“I think I see it that way,” said James. “I also look at it the other way. Like, how many times are you going to try to dig yourself out until there’s too much dirt?”
James, who has occasionally voiced concerns with the roster throughout the season, has become increasingly critical in recent postgame sessions since Davis’ injury.
“The reality is that without AD, we lose a lot of length that we don’t already have,” James said. “So you have to make up for it in a very difficult and challenging way without the AD. So at one point I think[Austin Reeves]was the tallest player on the court. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand
James has been candid about his team’s lack of shooting power and size. The team’s collective talent also had a subtle jab. And it’s hard to argue against James’ judgment or the application of his pressure.
After a slow start, James has certainly done his part, scoring 30-plus points in seven straight games, the longest active streak in the NBA.
He continues to break and set records with unprecedented longevity. Among the many notable examples this season, he has already passed Magic Johnson in career assists and could overtake Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the all-time scoring list within the next month and a half.
But James’ 20 seasons, like his 19, are essentially wasted on a Lakers team that seems to be tied to the lottery. There’s some optimism, but like last season, the team has achieved little compared to the expectations set in the first two seasons of James and Davis’ partnership.
Lakers coach Durbin Hamm tends to have a glass half full most of the time, acknowledging the “tough situation” James, in particular, faces amidst the team’s struggles.
“It’s phenomenal,” Hamm said of James’ play. “Hats off to him. come out to and really try to coach and teach in the process of being on the floor and playing with them just with his ability to present the type of performance that he is presenting. Pitch your ideas in. Allow yourself to be coached.
“A lot of people in that position don’t allow anyone to coach themselves. Hats off to him. His leadership is showing.”
The game started off in encouraging fashion for the Lakers. They doubled on Luka Doncic, limiting his offensive output and forcing the rest of the Mavericks to try and beat them. The Dallas shooters made brick open look after open look and flipped some of them in the air. The Lakers played with fire and got away with it. They led by his 54-43, spinning pretty well most of the time and corralling the Mavericks offense.
But the third quarter, the Lakers’ worst quarter of the season, featured a historic volcanic eruption. Dallas scored his 51 points. This is his best Christmas quarter in NBA history and the league’s highest scoring of the season.
Doncic (32 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists) picked them off the post, Tim Hardaway Jr. (16 of 26 in the quarter) hit several 3s and Christian Wood (30 points, career 7 assists) dominated the match. Paint as a roller, passer, and offensive rebounder. Dallas made 9 of 13 3s in the quarter and overall he shot 72%.
The Lakers, as they often do late in the season and at key moments, let loose. Within 12 minutes, they were up 11 points from him down 19 points.
“They were against what we were doing at halftime,” James said. “After they made adjustments, we didn’t make proper adjustments. ”
Part of his stellar performance stems from Doncic’s talent and the impossible problems he faces by twisting defenses. The Mavericks have loaded their roster with shooting to complement Doncic’s style of play.
“If you watch the same coverage over and over, at some point you’ll find that you have the high basketball IQ that Luka has,” James said.
But much of the Mavericks’ success also came from the fact that the Lakers’ supporting cast was largely unreliable. Hamm trusts that there aren’t many players taller than 6’5″.
Hamm continues to place 6-foot-1 Patrick Beverly and 6-foot-1 Dennis Schrader in the starting backcourt, but the combination didn’t pan out. The Lakers are already small, but Hamm tends to favor smaller players in an attempt to stop the bleeding.
One such extreme example is Hamm using Westbrook (6’3) at center with Reeves (6’5″), Ronnie Walker IV (6’4″), Schrader and Beverly. It was when This is probably the smallest lineup any team has used this season. The group went -1 about two minutes into the fourth quarter.
“I’m going to bang the whole thing against the wall and see what sticks,” said Hamm. “This is one of those types of situations. AD isn’t here, it’s not in the lineup. I’m not going to use that as an excuse. are pros, we have to step up.”
Regardless of the circumstances, Ham maintains a confident appearance. For him, there is always something the coaching staff and players can do to fix things.
But James’ patience seems to be waning as the clock slows down in his fabled battle against Father Time.
This season, James is averaging 27.8 points (0.4 more than Davis), shooting 49.6%, rebounding 8.1 and assisting 6.6. He’s done this with his 36.1 minutes per game, his 14th-most in the league. For reference, Kobe Bryant averaged 28.2 minutes a game in his 20th season. Abdul-Jabbar averaged 22.9 minutes in his 20s. Vince Carter averaged 17.7 minutes.
Basically, James is in unprecedented territory not only in production, but also in workload.
It’s hard to bet James on him in a way that defies traditional athletic aging, but at some point, the toll will inevitably affect him. For James, who turns 38 today, the increased strain required to endure his absence is too much. point to.
A trade boost would clearly help, and the Lakers are still evaluating options in a dormant trade market. becoming more and more difficult. The front office doesn’t want to aggravate previous mistakes with further favorable moves.
There are many slices of slammed pie to share. In it, James is clearly responsible for some of the roster building, considering the notable input he’s had over the past few seasons, including helping trade Westbrook.
It’s hard to see one of the game’s greatest players whining instead of banging while still leaving a lot of greatness in the tank.
“At the end of the day, I love playing basketball games,” she says. You’re just trying to control what you can control.
“I would show up and try to lead them to victory, but there were times when I was clearly frustrated. I’ve thought about it several times. But I always try to keep my composure. ”
(Photo: LeBron James: Jerome Milon / USA Today)