PHOENIX — A season that began with championship promise for the Los Angeles Lakers ended with the ache of not even making it to the qualifying event.
Tuesday’s 121-110 loss to the Phoenix Suns — coupled with a 116-97 San Antonio Spurs win over the Denver Nuggets — formally knocked LA out of competitors with three regular-season video games left.
Phoenix opened the sport with a 35-22 third quarter, and the Lakers limped to the end line from there. Suns’ Devin Booker (32 factors on 12-for-22 capturing) and Jae Crowder hinted at their opponent’s bench, relishing the possibility to bury the Lakers after Anthony Davis instructed final month that Phoenix’s win within the playoffs in 2021 in opposition to LA was a fluke.
Ultimately, it was simply one other powerful night time for the Lakers in a season that their followers would simply as shortly overlook.
Accidents sabotaged the season, with Los Angeles’ new Massive Three of LeBron James, Davis and Russell Westbrook combining to play simply 21 video games collectively by Tuesday. The Lakers went 11-10 in these video games – barely dominating, however undoubtedly not cellar dwellers both.
Accidents performed a job once more on Tuesday, with James out for the fourth time within the final 5 video games with left ankle ache. It was his twenty third missed sport of the season. Becoming a member of James on the guests’ bench on the Footprint Heart in avenue garments was Kendrick Nunn, lacking his 79th sport of the season with a bone bruise in his proper knee however, oddly sufficient, nonetheless not merely dominated out for the season by the Lakers.
Even Davis, who was on the court docket to play his third sport after a six-week absence with a sprained proper midfoot, additionally suffered from plantar fascia in his proper foot that has plagued him since his return, in keeping with Lakers coach Frank Vogel.
The eruption of poor well being – together with COVID-19 which swept by the locker room in December – has led to a ridiculous whole of 24 totally different gamers in fits for LA at one level this season. And that left Vogel with no selection however to continuously tinker with the gamers at his disposal as he tried out 39 totally different beginning formations by Tuesday – the second most within the league behind the Brooklyn Nets.
A group chosen to win 52.5 video games in pre-season by BetMGM Sportsbook and a heavy favourite – together with Brooklyn – to win all of it, was knocked out of the qualifying event shedding their seventh sport in a row to take their document to 31-48.
It’s the Lakers’ longest shedding streak of the season, whereas San Antonio have gained for the seventh time of their final eight video games to ensure they’ll be at the least the tenth seed within the play-in. . The New Orleans Pelicans, who wanted a Tuesday night time win or loss to the Lakers, beat the Sacramento Kings 123-109 to clinch a playoff berth.
Los Angeles, in the meantime, hasn’t gained back-to-back video games since early January, when it beat Sacramento and Atlanta at dwelling.
By the point the Lakers and Suns introduced Tuesday night time, the Spurs held a seven-point lead over Denver late within the third quarter, establishing half of Los Angeles’ elimination state of affairs. The Lakers clung to a 42-39 lead over the Suns halfway by the second quarter when San Antonio put the ending touches on their win.
The loss unofficially triggers an offseason stuffed with query marks for the Lakers. Will Vogel preserve his job? Is there a reshuffle in retailer for the entrance workplace? Can the Lakers discover a commerce accomplice for Westbrook and reduce their losses? Will James, getting into the ultimate 12 months of his contract, signal a contract extension to maintain him in Los Angeles past his twentieth season within the league?
James, ever conscious of the messaging, confirmed his alignment with the franchise by his apparel on Tuesday. He wore a white T-shirt with “Lake Present” printed on the entrance in purple and gold letters, with caricatures of Laker legends Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Magic Johnson, Jerry West, James Worthy and Kareem Abdul -Jabbar.
Nobody from the 2021-22 Lakers made the reduce.