The Los Angeles Lakers are in the midst of one of their worst stretches of the season, losing three straight and not really being competitive in any of them.
Typically when the team has struggled this season, the one constant has been the strong play of LeBron James, who continues to be one of the best players in the NBA in his 19th season.
During this current losing streak though, even James’ play has dipped, particularly his effort on the defensive end of the floor. James has been playing more center for the Lakers as of late, which means he is often the last line of defense so cannot slack off on that end of the floor.
After Saturday night’s loss to the Denver Nuggets, Frank Vogel, Russell Westbrook and Dwight Howard all called out the Lakers’ lack of effort, as did former franchise great Magic Johnson on Twitter.
For just the second time this season, James did not speak to the media after the game, perhaps being frustrated with his own play and the outcome. He took to social media on Sunday night though, issuing an apology to Lakers fans presumably for his recent play and the Lakers’ lack of effort:
The Lakers currently sit at 21-22 and have struggled to make much progress throughout the course of the season. They recently had a stretch where they were beginning to play well without Anthony Davis, getting a lot of their other key players back from health and safety protocols.
That has all come crashing down over the last three games though, with effort being the main concern.
With the trade deadline just around the corner on Feb. 10, it will be interesting to see where the Lakers go from here. Davis is expected back before the end of the month, but even as great of a player as he is, he can’t be expected to come in and fix all of the Lakers’ issues right away.
Westbrook was the most vocal Lakers player after the loss to the Nuggets, calling out their lack of effort.
“We got to make a decision on if we’re gonna play hard,” Westbrook said after the game. “Sometimes the schemes and how you play doesn’t really matter, you got to just play hard. Sometimes teams are just playing harder than us, simple as that. Even when we’re winning we give up a lot of points, but now it’s showing, especially when we lost games and teams are just putting their head down and going and we got to do a better job of defending.”