Lakers out: LeBron misses playoffs for 1st time since 2005
LOS ANGELES, USA (UPDATED) – Legendary NBA superstar LeBron James will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2005 as the Los Angeles Lakers got officially eliminated with a 111-106 loss to the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA on Friday, March 22 (Saturday, March 23, Manila time).
The four-time league MVP James also had his eight-year run to the NBA finals snapped as the lowly Lakers will finish with another losing record.
"It is a tough season for all of us," James said. "It is not what we signed up for.
"You don't even try to wrap your head around it. Just keep pushing. The playoffs are never a promise, you got to put in the work."
James had 25 points, 14 assists and 9 rebounds, but it wasn't enough to get the victory in a tight contest that featured plenty of lead changes.
The last time the NBA's best player wasn't in the postseason was in 2004-2005, his second season with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
It's the sixth straight year the Lakers missed the playoffs.
Nets swingman Joe Harris led the ouster of the 16-time NBA champion team with 26 points, while former Laker D'Angelo Russell had a massive double-double output of 21 points and 13 assists.
What revenge looks like pic.twitter.com/a22kl7jOCl— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) March 23, 2019
James played in Friday's contest at Staples Center Arena despite missing games recently to get rest for his lingering groin injury.
He also took a hard tumble against the Nets after slipping on the baseline while driving to the basket with 22 seconds left in the fourth. He left the game for one possession, then returned.
James shot 8-of-25 from the floor in 35 minutes of action as the Lakers are 2-11 in their last 13 games.
The Lakers were in the mix of things when James knotted the score at 90-all in the payoff period but Russell responded by draining triple that swung the lead to the Nets.
The Lakers still had a fighting chance as James' free throws in the last minute of the game closed the gap to a one-possession game, 106-109, but a crucial foul brought Spencer Dinwiddie to the line to seal the win.
JaVale McGee erupted for a career-high 33 points off a 15-of-20 clip to lead the Lakers' scoring to go with 20 rebounds.
When James signed with the storied franchise before the season, few expected him to extend his streak of finals appearances to 9 straight, but not many thought it would be due to a failure to get into the playoffs.
It has been a season of blown opportunities, broken promises and with the Lakers now officially out of contention late in the season, it leaves the coaching staff and the front office under fire.
With the rebuilding Lakers limiting James' minutes down the stretch, the forward had sat out two of the past 3 games heading into the Nets' game.
He did not play in last Friday in the Lakers' 111-97 loss at Detroit or Tuesday on Los Angeles' 115- 101 loss to Milwaukee.
Three-time champion James was doing his part by averaging 27.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, and eight assists this season, but he hasn't gotten consistent help from an injury-depleted and inexperienced supporting staff. – With a report from Agence France-Presse