LeBron James had one of his best statistical games of the season on Tuesday night, putting up 28 points, 11 rebounds, 16 assists and three steals to record his second triple-double in three games. It wasn’t enough though, as the Los Angeles Lakers suffered a devastating loss to the lowly Atlanta Hawks, 117-113.
Facing a tough race for one of the final playoff spots in the Western Conference, these are the type of games the Lakers can’t afford to lose — especially considering their poor stretch over recent weeks. They’ve now lost four out of five games, and eight of their last 11. Because of that, they’re now under .500 on the season at 28-29, and sit two and a half games out of the eighth spot in the West.
LeBron, however, does not seem worried. Following Tuesday’s loss, he offered a rather casual take on when the team should start worrying about missing the playoffs.
“You either make it or you don’t make it,” LeBron said. “That’s when you worry about it.”
On the one hand, LeBron has a point. It doesn’t really do the team much good to start watching the standings and worrying about their position every single night with this much time left in the season. They have plenty of things to worry about in regards to their own play, which hasn’t been close to good enough lately — especially on the defensive end.
At the same time, he’s not exactly conveying the sense of urgency or confidence that you might expect given the Lakers’ situation and his stature. Following all of the drama surrounding the trade deadline and the Anthony Davis speculation, the team is clearly in a bad place, both on and off the court.
This is exactly the time for the four-time MVP to step up and put the team on his back. It’s what he’s done his whole career, and why the Lakers brought him in. Essentially throwing his hands up in the air in regards to the playoffs runs counter to those expectations.