Wizards 127 Lakers 124

3 losses in a row for Lake Show.

Jim Rome
February 23, 2021 - 9:16 am
LeBron James

USA Today

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The Lakers lost to the Wizards 127-124 in overtime last night. In and of itself, that’s not a problem. They lost to the Heat on Saturday. Again, on its own, not a reason to panic. They also lost to the Nets on Thursday night. Again, no reason to be FREAKING OUT.

But string those three losses together, combine them into the three game losing streak that the Lakers have right now, and it’s a little concerning. Make that three game losing streak part of a four losses in five games run, and then you are actually gripping some. 

Especially when last night loss is came in overtime. In a game where they had a 17 point lead in the second half.  When you’re looking to stop the bleeding, that can’t happen. But it did. 

Finish that off last night, in regulation, and LeBron doesn’t have to play nearly 16 of the final 17 minutes of the game. Finish that off last night and you don’t give up more ground to the Utah Jazz.

But they couldn’t. Again, they’re going to be a different team without their second and third leading scorers. That’s obvious.  And anyone who thought they wouldn’t be, anyone who thought they’d just keep on rolling without Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder, was begging.

SO…The issue isn’t the fact that they’ve lost three straight, it’s that damn, they could’ve used a win last night. And they had one, up 17 and still couldn’t’ finish.

Finish that game and you buy yourself a little breathing room. FINISH THAT GAME, and you don’t have to answer any questions about how it felt to have Bradley Beal stab you in the chest on three straight possessions.

Followed by this circus shot.

And then added another bucket for good measure. Followed by Russell Westbrook ripping the knife out of his Beal’s hand and doing a little carving of his own.

Beal had 33, 7, and 6. Westbrook had 32, 14, and 9. That will happen. Great players will do that. And again, in and of itself it’s not a reason for Laker fans to panic and start shoving their car flags back into storage.

But I am saying this is pretty much exactly what I warned Laker fans about when Anthony Davis went down. The chance to win number 18 isn’t gone, it just got a lot harder.

Because the Lakers are going to have to exert more energy in the regular season, coming off a short offseason, in a year where you’re trying to repeat. Repeating as champ is one of the hardest things in sports. Doing it on a shortened offseason is even more difficult.

Doing it on a shortened offseason while your second best player deals with a leg injury makes it REALLY DIFFICULT.

And now the team has to answer questions about whether or not LeBron is playing too much and carrying too much of the load. Something he really doesn’t WANT TO hear:

"I think this whole narrative of 'LeBron needs more rest' or I should take more rest or I should take time here, it's become a lot bigger than what it actually 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, s---. This is a fast turnaround from last season, and we all wish we could have more rest. But I'm here to work, I'm here to punch my clock in and be available to my teammates.

"And if I'm hurt or if I'm not feeling well, then we can look at it then. But I have nothing but honest people [advising me], but I'm also honest with myself, as well, and me having a love for the game and me being able to be available to my teammates is more important than anything."

Of course he’s not asking out of games, or looking for his load to be managed. That’s not who he is or how he’s wired. But sometimes you have to protect the guy from the guy.  Especially that guy. And if you’re going to ask that guy to work overtime, you better get a win: otherwise you’re depreciating that asset even further with nothing to show for it.  Because while the Lakers have lost three in a row and four of five, the team they’re looking up at, the Utah jazz is straight abusing fools: every single night. And look who L.A. Has to deal with tomorrow night. That’s right: the Jazz.

You can’t win a title in February. But you can lose one. Because you can make the road to that title a lot harder. Right now, the Lakers would have to beat the Clippers in the playoffs for a chance to face the Jazz, while Utah gets to wait for those two teams to beat the crap out of each other and take on the battered winner. 

Losing last night wasn’t a back breaker. There’s no reason for Laker fans to smash the panic button, but you better at least know where it is. Especially since you know Utah is looking to punch your dudes in the face tomorrow night.