Rehashing the words of LeBron James after loss to the Clippers
March 3, 2022
Keep that same energy! That's what LeBron James' Tweet wanted all the Lakers' detractors to do at the beginning of the season.
"Keep talking about my squad, our personnel ages, the way he plays, he stays injured, we're past our time in this league, etc etc etc. Do me one favor PLEASE!!! And I mean PLEASE!!! Keep that same narrative ENERGY when it begins! That's all I ask."
After the Lakers dropped their first game after the All-Star break and their 31st of their last 38 games to their cross-hall rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers, in a 105-102 late-game collapse, it's time to revisit James’ edict to keep the same energy.
With 15 seconds left to play, needing two points to steal a win, LeBron patiently dribbled out the clock, with an open lane to drive towards, waited for a pick and roll, only to be triple-teamed, and passed the ball to Carmelo Anthony for a contested 30-foot three-point attempt.
The Lakers are consistently inconsistent. In almost every contest, there is a period where their defensive lapses and stagnant offense puts them in a position where they must scratch and claw to make things competitive. The quarter at which these lapses manifest varies. Against the Clippers, the Lakers waited until the game's waning moments to come unhinged. James and company are second in the NBA, losing games when they lead by five points with 5:00 minutes left. Last Friday, February 25, a spiraling team let yet another victory slip through their grasp.
About that tweet. Russell Westbrook, whose erratic play has been the scapegoat for the Lakers' woes, managed to play a turnover-free game against the Clippers. After injuring his ankle, Anthony Davis, who is out indefinitely, sat on the bench as a spectator. Carmelo Anthony proves to be a solid and serviceable scorer with the second unit; however, the dominance that characterized his prime right now is a thing of the past.
But the Lakers go a where James carries them. Their lackadaisical effort and wonton disregard for defensive intensity often characterize them. And after the loss to the Clippers, James had plenty to discuss regarding a late gaffe by the referees and statements made in the press that appeared to slight the Lakers.
James secured a missed go-ahead Westbrook shot before he could pass the ball to a waiting teammate, but Clippers forward/center Robert Covington knocked the ball out of James' hands with nine seconds remaining on the shot clock. But when Lakers' head coach Frank Vogel called a timeout to draw up a play, the referees reviewed and ruled that James had stepped out of bounds before having the ball knocked from his grasp -- thus awarding the ball to the Clippers.
"I know every rule in this game, as long as I've been playing. I never knew that you could challenge a play that wasn't called on the floor, and that was essentially what happened," James stated.
But what overshadowed these Laker woes were James' comments during the All-Star break. James was effusive with his praise over Oklahoma City's general manager Sam Presti and left the door open at the possibility of retiring in Cleveland. Laker brass and James' Klutch agency super-agent, Rich Paul, met to align and clear the air over the break. James, seemingly clarifying his statements or doing his best to control the damage, had plenty to say.
"I don't understand how some of my comments over the weekend was taken to a whole different area of 'Could I see myself retiring as a Cavalier?' I never said I would see myself playing in a Cavaliers uniform. "I said, 'Well, I don't know what tomorrow holds, but actually me playing for the Cavs? I don't know. I don't know about that.'"
"Like you guys take some of my words, and just twist them to different places where they shouldn't go. If I comment or compliment a GM in OKC, I really believe that he's done a phenomenal job. You then guys spin that to me, saying that Rob [Pelinka] is not doing a great job. Or if I say the GM of the Rams [Les Snead], I loved his f***ing t-shirt, and I believe the same way. I don't care about picks. I care about winning championships. How is that directed towards Rob and the Lakers franchise? Rob has done the same thing. When we went and got AD, he didn't care about picks as well, obviously."
James was emphatic about clarifying that his resolve and commitment remain with the Lakers. "This is a franchise I see myself with. I'm here."
The Lakers ninth place Lakers host the Golden State Warriors on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
Follow Eric on Twitter @elambsquared and Instagram at @elamb5quared.