LOS ANGELES — After logging 40-plus minutes for the fourth time this month solely to see the Los Angeles Lakers lose 127-124 in time beyond regulation to the Washington Wizards on Monday night time, 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 loads larger than what it really is,” James stated. “I’ve by no means talked about it, I do not discuss it, I do not consider in it. We all want extra relaxation, s—. This is a quick turnaround from final season, and all of us want we may have extra relaxation. But I’m right here to work, I’m right here to punch my clock in and be obtainable to my teammates.
“And if I’m harm or if I’m not feeling properly, then we are able to take a look at it then. But I’ve nothing however trustworthy individuals [advising me], however I’m additionally trustworthy with myself, as properly, and me having a love for the sport and me with the ability to be obtainable to my teammates is extra necessary than something.”
James performed 43 minutes in opposition to 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 time beyond regulation and scored 13 factors, however he shot 6-for-13 in doing so (0-for-4 from 3), with 4 of his game-high eight turnovers coming in that point span. He additionally went 1-for-3 from the free throw line, together with a miss on an and-1 try that might have put L.A. up by one with 9.8 seconds remaining within the fourth quarter.
“Obviously, I take full accountability [for] lacking that free throw,” he stated. “I received to make the free throw up there; it is a simple level for us. But we did not lose the sport there. But I take that accountability, for positive, and I received to be higher.”
For the primary month and a half of the season, Lakers coach Frank Vogel was actually higher at managing the 18-year veteran’s minutes. Prior to February, James averaged 33.3 minutes per sport this season — which ranked forty third within the league and represented the least quantity of taking part in time in his profession, based on knowledge compiled by ESPN Stats & Information.
Since the beginning 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 battle, 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 in opposition to the Denver Nuggets.
“I’m not pushing myself,” stated 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’m going out and taking part in the sport. I’m doing my job, and I’m making an attempt to do it at a excessive degree, however that is been a story across the league.
“I’ve by no means requested for time without work or time all through the season. And it is rising to some extent the place it isn’t even coming from me anymore. It’s identical to, ‘OK, LeBron ought to take time without work’ or ‘Why is his workload at this.’ I’ve been listening to it for 5, six, seven years now, and I’m nonetheless going robust. So I do not want a handout, I’m not searching for a handout; my job is to exit when I’m obtainable, when 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 with a view to preserve the Lakers’ captain contemporary, with a repeat title being the workforce’s final purpose.
“We’ve thought of that each one season lengthy with him. And we’ll make these selections on a game-by-game foundation,” Vogel stated.
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 few third of the way in which into final season. And Lakers heart Montrezl Harrell stated the workforce’s struggles will trigger “a whole lot of soul looking out.”
As for James, the guts and soul of the defending champions, Vogel lauded the job he’s doing, even whereas losses are beginning to pile up.
“He’s a workhorse,” Vogel stated. “He’s doing every part he can for us.”