After an early-season run that saw them holding down the No. 4 seed in the West for a brief but glorious minute and seemed to signal a new era in Tinseltown, the Lakers have been officially eliminated from playoff contention after losing, 111-106, to the Nets on Friday night at Staples Center. Brooklyn has now swept their season series against Los Angeles.
It certainly wasn’t for lack of effort from LeBron, who did his best to keep the Lakers’ season alive, if only for one more game, with a 13-point fourth-quarter to keep L.A. within striking distance. He narrowly missed a triple double, with 25 points, 14 assists, and nine rebounds, but shot just 8-of-25 on the night, including 1-of-6 from downtown, and committed eight turnovers.
The Lakers also got a remarkable game from JaVale McGee, who put up a monstrous 33 points, 20 rebounds, and six blocks. In the end, however, they weren’t able to overcome the Nets, led by former Laker D’Angelo Russell with 21 points and 13 assists, and Joe Harris, who put up 26 points on 6-of-8 three-pointers.
The groin injury LeBron James suffered on Christmas turned out to the be the death knell for their playoff aspirations, making it the sixth year in a row that the Lakers will fail to qualify for the postseason. That fact in and of itself would not have necessarily been noteworthy were it not for LeBron’s arrival last summer and all the outsize expectations that came with it.
Now, the organization faces an offseason of uncertainty as they look to retrofit a roster that is filled with guys who are past their prime and talented but underachieving young players who have mostly yet to prove their viability to play alongside LeBron on a true contender.
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