The New Orleans Pelicans entered Saturday night’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers eight games back of .500 and sat star center Anthony Davis.
They still toppled L.A., 128-115, and led by as many as 20 points, which prompted LeBron James to express frustrations with the Lakers’ current standing in the Western Conference and wonder about the sense of urgency of his teammates.
“But how many know what's at stake if you've never been there before?” James said of his teammates Saturday night after the loss.
“I'm playing devil's advocate, you know? It's kind of a fine line when you talk about that, because when you've never been there or know what it takes to actually shoot for something like that, sometimes you're afraid to get uncomfortable.
“So you got to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. I'm not saying that's what we are as a whole. It kind of looks that way at times, that sometimes we're afraid to be uncomfortable and kind of get out of our comfort zone and kind of, you know, have that sense of urgency from the jump, and not be afraid to actually go out and fail to succeed. I mean, we have, what – 23 games left? We'll see what happens.”
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James has reached the NBA Finals in each of the last eight seasons as a member of the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers, and has made the playoffs the last 13 seasons. Los Angeles, meanwhile, has missed the playoffs a franchise-record five seasons in a row.
Playing his first year in Los Angeles, the Lakers are currently 29-30 and 3.5 games back of the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers (33-27), who currently hold the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“The last few years, everyone's so accustomed to the losses that I'm just not accustomed to,” James said. “I'm not accustomed to it. I would never get comfortable with losing. So losing Game 1 (at home of this season) to Houston, it feels the same way as losing Game 59 in New Orleans for me. That's just how I'm built. That's who I am.”
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James reacts during a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. (Photo11: Bill Streicher, USA TODAY Sports)
James is playing with a roster that’s still young and fairly inexperienced with playoff basketball, after he signed a four-year, $154 million deal in July.
“I knew it was going to be very challenging,” James said of winning immediately on a young Lakers team. “Just because of the experience the roster had at that point and time. I knew it was going to be challenging from that sense, but I felt like we could still play better basketball.”
In Saturday’s loss against the Pelicans, James scored 27 points and added 12 assists, seven rebounds, and four steals.
“I just think we’ve got to be consistent,” James said. “We got to be consistent with everything. We got to be consistent with our body languages, our effort. As a whole, we're just not consistent.”
Follow Lorenzo Reyes on Twitter @LorenzoGReyes.
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