After Monday night’s 113-105 loss to the Clippers, the Los Angeles Lakers’ chances of getting into the playoffs are slim to none. The Lakers sit in the No. 10 seed in the West 5.5 games in back of the eight and final playoff spot, with 18 games left to play in the regular season – and the road doesn’t get any easier.
Los Angeles has the seventh-toughest remaining schedule, facing just five teams that have a sub.-500 winning percentage, and since the Lakers lost to the Clippers for a second time in a year, they cannot own the tiebreaker or the better division record and sneak into the playoffs.
The performance sparked rumors that LeBron James will “shut it down” or be on a minutes restrictions the rest of the season, with the possibility of making the playoffs in the rear-view mirror. Following Monday night’s loss James had this to say in a post-game interview with ESPN:
“That would take a lot of convincing from Luke [Walton] on up,” James told ESPN, referring to the Lakers coach, as well as (most likely) everyone from general manager Rob Pelinka, to president Magic Johnson, to governor Jeanie Buss. “Unless I’m hurt, I’m not sitting games.”
It is still unclear whether or not the Lakers will seriously look at shutting down James or pulling back his minutes the rest of the way, but with James averaging 40-plus minutes in five out of the eight past games, it looks likely that the king will be sitting on his throne a lot more as the season winds down. The Lakers host the Denver Nuggets at the Staples Center at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and then host the Boston Celtics at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.