LeBron James gets honest about Lakers’ struggles, downplays In-Season Tournament as losing streak grows

A once-promising season for the Lakers has quickly gone off the rails. Since winning the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament, LA has lost 10 of its last 13 games. As the losses continue to mount, so, too, do the frustrations of players inside the Lakers’ locker room.

LA’s losing streak is up to four games following a 127-113 home loss to the Grizzlies on Friday. After the game, a frustrated LeBron James downplayed what could be taken from the Lakers’ tournament win while assessing where the team currently stands.

“That was just two games, though,” James said of the Lakers’ tournament win. “It was a small sample.

MORE: Does LeBron James get legacy boost from his In-Season Tournament MVP?

“Everybody’s getting so cracked up about Vegas and keeps bringing up Vegas. It was two games. We took care of that business, that was the In-Season Tournament, we played, we won it but it was literally just two games.”

In Las Vegas, the Lakers dismantled the Pelicans by 44 points in the In-Season Tournament Semifinals before capturing the In-Season Tournament title with a 123-109 win over the Pacers.

And while LA has gone 3-10 in the time since, New Orleans is 9-4 and Indiana is 8-6, including a current five-game win streak. 

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“We just suck right now,” James said of the current state of the Lakers. He declined to reflect on whether or not signs of their current issues showed earlier in the season.

Since winning the tournament on Dec. 9, the most notable difference has been the decline in the Lakers’ defense. During the team’s 13-game stretch, they have allowed 118.7 points per 100 possessions, which is a bottom-10 defensive rating over that span.

A look at LA’s numbers before and following the In-Season Tournament championship illustrates a large part of why its success has been limited.

Lakers before and since the In-Season Tournament
  Before Dec. 9 Since Dec. 9
Games 23 13
Record 14-9 3-10
Offensive rating 111.4 112.5
Defensive rating 110.3 118.7
Net rating 1.1 -6.2

The Lakers haven’t exactly been an offensive juggernaut at any point of the season but the marked shift in defense has equated to a drop-off in overall performance. Some injuries have contributed to LA’s struggles but the lack of success is much deeper than availability.

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With rising frustrations comes mounting rumors and it has been reported that head coach Darvin Ham is on the hot seat after losing the locker room. While Ham continues to experiment with lineups and rotations, there are also increased rumblings that the answer may not currently be on LA’s roster.

James’ recent assessment of the Lakers might be the biggest sign that a major change is on the way in Los Angeles. If the team wants to turn things around, this low point would be an ideal time to do so.

Source : ESPN.com

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