LeBron James

USA Today

2018-19 Lakers

Playing the Grizzlies is supposed to be a free spin.

February 26, 2019 - 10:32 am

Today is February 26th. On February 22nd, I declared that I would never say that a NBA game in February is a must-win game. But after watching the Lakers last night, I’m thinking about revising that take. Why?

Los Angeles 105
Memphis 110

You know, the Memphis Grizzlies who’d lost four straight going into last night. The Memphis Grizzlies who’d lost to the Chicago Bulls by double digits and the Cleveland Cavaliers in two of their last three games. The team that was a complete mess. 

Watching that game last night, it was a battle between a team that’s a complete complete mess….and the Memphis Grizzlies. 

I'd play the highlights, but there weren't any. 

Memphis, who is second to last in the West, looked like they were battling for a playoff spot and the Lakers looked like they were playing out the string. Memphis has nothing to play for and they were battling. The Lakers have everything to play for and they were messing around. 

And while I’m not yet prepared to change the rules of the world and say that there is such a thing as a must-win NBA game in February, I will say that the Lakers are really testing that. 

Check that, they broke it. 

Because that was a must-win game. It was a must-win game in the sense that you have to win those kind of games, no matter when you play them. You have to beat up on the bad teams and hold your own against the good ones. 

Memphis is a bad team right now. Playing the Grizzlies is supposed to be a free spin. 

And even worse than losing to Memphis was the fact that it’s not a one-off, it’s a trend.

That was the middle part of a three game stretch that goes New Orleans, Memphis, and New Orleans. The ultimate get-right games. Three wins that you can take immediately. Except the Lakers are 0-2.

They’ve gotten those get-right games all wrong. 

After beating Houston coming off the break, those three games were supposed to be a great way to get a 4-game winning streak, get some momentum. Then you’ve got a tough one against Milwaukee, another win against Phoenix, and then a huge game against the Clippers who are ahead of you in the West. 

Instead, LA lost again and is now behind the T-wolves in the West. And that’s after Minnesota was hit by the Ja Rule Curse!

And yes, I know that LA is only two games behind San Antonio in the loss column. And that they can do damage down the stretch. But it’s getting pretty late pretty early. 

Don’t get me wrong. As long as you’ve got LeBron, you’ve got a chance. I’ve seen him drag worse teams to the playoffs and through the playoffs. But everything about this team is all wrong. From the way they play on the floor, to the way they talk off it. Everything is jacked up. 

They play and feel like a team with no chemistry, no vision, and no plans of making the playoffs. They feel like a team that is another loss to New Orleans away from breaking the huddle with “Cabo on three! 1-2-3 Cabo!” 

I know it’s still February. And no, I’m not here to throw dirt on them. I don’t have to. They’re doing it to themselves. Lose to New Orleans and Memphis, and you’ve jumped into the hole and just started dropping dirt by the shovel full on yourself. 

And Laker fans, don’t tell me you can’t see that. Don’t tell me that you haven’t started reconciling yourself to the possibility that they miss the playoffs. Don’t tell me that you haven’t started thinking about the draft lottery. Don’t tell me that you haven’t shifted from your Anthony Davis in purple and gold photoshops to Zion Williamson in purple and gold photoshops. Because I know you have. And it looks like the current Lakers have too.