LOS ANGELES – After logging over 40 minutes for the fourth time this month only to see the Los Angeles Lakers lose 127-124 in overtime to the Washington Wizards on Monday night, LeBron James insisted he can handle the workload. that is asked. he.
“I think this whole ‘LeBron needs more rest’ narrative or I should rest more or I should take some time here, it’s gotten a lot bigger than it really is,” James said. “I’ve never talked about it, I don’t talk about it, I don’t believe in it. We all need more rest, shit. This is a quick change from last season, and we all wish I could rest more. But I’m here to work, I’m here to mark my watch and be available to my colleagues.
“And if I’m hurt or not feeling well, then we can see it. But I have nothing but honest people. [advising me]But I’m also honest with myself, and having a love for the game and being available to my teammates is more important than anything else. “
James played 43 minutes against the Wizards and had 31 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds, but admitted he was not their best player.
He played all but one minute and six seconds of the fourth quarter and overtime and scored 13 points, but was 6 of 13 correct doing so (0 of 4 of 3) and had four of his eight turnovers. during that period of time. He also went 1 of 3 from the free throw line, including an error on a 1 and 1 attempt that would have put LA up by one with 9.8 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
“Obviously, I take full responsibility [for] missing that free throw, “James said.” I have to take the free kick there; it is an easy point for us. But we didn’t lose the game there. But I take that responsibility, sure, and I have to be better. “
For the first month and a half of this season, Lakers coach Frank Vogel was arguably better at handling the 18-year-old’s minutes. Before February, James averaged 33.3 minutes per game, which ranked 43rd in the league and represented the least amount of playing time in his career, according to data compiled by ESPN Stats & Information.
However, since the beginning of the month, James has averaged 38.2 minutes in 11 games, the most in the NBA, and LA is starting to struggle as he lost four of his last five games since Anthony Davis aggravated his tendinosis. Achilles while suffering a right calf strain against the Denver Nuggets.
“I’m not pushing myself,” said James, 36, who has played in all 32 games for Los Angeles this season. “I wouldn’t say that. I’m going to go out there and play the game. I’m doing my job and I’m trying to do it at a high level, but that’s been a narrative in the league.
“I’ve never asked for time off or time off during the season. And it’s growing to a point where it doesn’t even come from me anymore. It’s like, ‘OK, LeBron should take time off’ or ‘Why should his load of I work in? I’ve been listening to it for five, six, seven years and I’m still going strong. So I don’t need a handout, I’m not looking for a handout; my job is to go out when ‘I’m available, when I’m healthy to go out and play, and that’s what it’s about. “
However, James has never played such a condensed schedule, coming off a 71-day offseason.
Vogel was asked if he had considered keeping James out of the lineup to keep the Lakers captain fresh, with a replay of the title the team’s ultimate goal.
“We’ve considered it all season with him. And we’ll make those decisions game by game,” Vogel said.
Los Angeles guard Alex Caruso compared the Lakers’ current downfall, a three-game losing streak all season, without Davis and point guard Dennis Schroder, to the four-game streak LA had about a third of. Last season. And Lakers center Montrezl Harrell said the team’s struggles will cause “a lot of soul searching.”
As for James, the heart and soul of the defending champs, Vogel praised the work he’s doing, even as losses start to pile up.
“He’s a workhorse,” Vogel said. “He’s doing everything he can for us.”