We’re all cool with throwing dirt on the Lakers’ casket, right?
Because after Monday’s 113-105 loss to the Clippers, sane hoops fans should know that any hope of LeBron James and the Lakers making the playoffs is dead.
Statistically speaking, the Lakers will tell you they are still alive for that 8th seed in the West. “I know it’s a long shot,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said after the game. They’re right, since you never know what can happen over the season’s final 18 games. But if watching the Lakers fall to the Clippers, in another must-win game against a team they were favored to beat, wasn’t enough to declare the purple and gold dead, done, finished, finito—whatever term you prefer to denote a team with no postseason future—get your eyes checked, pal.
Monday was another abysmal performance from the Lakers who shot the ball like garbage and were badly outplayed in the second half. Missing the services of Brandon Ingram, who was a late scratch, the Lakers let a third quarter lead disappear, got blasted in the fourth quarter, watched Kyle Kuzma go down with an ankle injury, and let another game slip away when they can’t afford to take any nights off.
Barring some Jesus Christ like resurrection, we’re done writing, talking, or even thinking about the Lakers as a playoff contender.
“I think the injuries are catching up a bit,” Walton said. “I thought the mindset, the way we wanted to compete, was there. Between being down the type of bodies we were down, it felt like in the second half when we missed a lot of those wide open shots it kind of deflated that energy out of us.”
Walton himself sounded deflated addressing the media. He can’t, of course, throw in the towel or wave the white flag on the season. But Monday really felt like the true beginning of the end for the 2018-19 Lakers. Now sitting five games behind the Clippers in the loss column for that final spot in the playoffs, the desperation everyone was expecting from LeBron and company in a rivalry game never materialized—kind of like the desperation the team pledged to play with after the All-Star break that also never materialized. The Lakers are 1-6 since the NBA returned to action following its weekend extravaganza in Charlotte and 5-13 over their last 18. Losses to the Hawks, Pelicans, Grizzlies, Suns, and Clippers are going to haunt them. So barring some Jesus Christ like resurrection, we’re done writing, talking, or even thinking about the Lakers as a playoff contender.
“Listen, we’ll keep playing ‘til the end and see what happens,” LeBron conceded after the game. “At the end the year, the chips will fall where they may.”
I mean, what else can he say? LeBron’s haters are going to have a field day with him not being able to lead this weirdly configured squad to the playoffs. But it’s not his fault—entirely. His balky groin certainly helped sabotage this team that was 20-14 following that Christmas day defeat of Golden State. But there’s only so much LeBron can do, in his diminished state. He needed way more from the veteran bench players and the team proved it couldn’t block out trade talk or persevere through major injuries to LeBron and Lonzo Ball. The only thing the Lakers have excelled at this year is being consistently inconsistent.
This will go down as a wasted year for the LeBron and the Lakers. He’s 34 and not getting any younger, but that’s a column for another day. This team had high expectations and won’t come close to realizing them. Changes will be made this summer. Players will be jettisoned. A new coach will take over, since Walton is expected to be canned and—real talk—he kind of sounds like he knows the writing is on the wall.
So on Tuesday, a little over 12 hours after the final buzzer and with a brutal stretch of games ahead of them including the Nuggets, Celtics, and Raptors in three of their next four contests, we’re officially declaring the Lakers D.O.N.E. Only an act of God can save ‘em now.