PHOENIX — A season that began with championship promise for the Los Angeles Lakers ended with the ache of failing to even qualify for the play-in event.
Tuesday’s 121-110 loss to the Phoenix Suns — coupled with a 116-97 win by the San Antonio Spurs over the Denver Nuggets — formally eradicated L.A. from play-in rivalry with three video games remaining within the common season.
Phoenix blew the sport open with a 35-22 third quarter and the Lakers limped to the end line from there. The Suns’ Devin Booker (32 factors on 12-for-22 taking pictures) and Jae Crowder let their opponent’s bench hear it, relishing the possibility to bury the Lakers after Anthony Davis prompt final month that Phoenix’s 2021 playoff win over L.A. was a fluke.
In the end, it was simply one other tough evening for the Lakers in a season that their followers would simply as quickly overlook.
Accidents sabotaged the season, with L.A.’s new-look Large Three of LeBron James, Davis and Russell Westbrook combining to play simply 21 video games via Tuesday. The Lakers went 11-10 in these video games — hardly dominant, however definitely not cellar-dwellers, both.
Accidents performed an element once more on Tuesday, with James sitting out for the fourth time prior to now 5 video games with soreness in his left ankle. It was his twenty third missed recreation of the season. Becoming a member of James on the customer’s bench at Footprint Middle in road garments was Kendrick Nunn, lacking his 79th recreation of the season due to a bone bruise in his proper knee but, curiously, nonetheless not merely dominated out for the season by the Lakers.
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Even Davis, who was on the court docket taking part in in his third recreation again after a six-week absence due to a proper mid-foot sprain, was additionally coping with plantar fascia in his proper foot that’s stricken him since his return, in accordance with Lakers coach Frank Vogel.
The rash of poor well being — together with COVID-19 working via the locker room in December — led to a ridiculous whole 24 totally different gamers to swimsuit up for L.A. in some unspecified time in the future this season. And it left Vogel no alternative however to continually tinker with the items accessible to him as he tried out 39 totally different beginning lineups via Tuesday — second most within the league behind the Brooklyn Nets.
A workforce picked to win 52.5 video games within the preseason by BetMGM Sportsbook and a prime favourite — together with Brooklyn — to win all of it, was eradicated from play-in event rivalry by shedding their seventh straight recreation to convey their report to 31-48.
It’s the Lakers’ longest shedding streak of the season, a becoming approach to exit, whereas San Antonio received for the seventh time in its previous eight video games to ensure it is going to be at the very least the No. 10 seed within the play-in. The New Orleans Pelicans, who wanted both a win Tuesday evening or loss by the Lakers, beat the Sacramento Kings 123-109 to clinch a playoff spot.
Los Angeles, in the meantime, hasn’t received consecutive video games since early January, when it beat Sacramento and Atlanta at dwelling.
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By the point the Lakers and Suns tipped off Tuesday evening, the Spurs held a seven-point lead over Denver late within the third quarter, placing one half of L.A.’s elimination situation into place. The Lakers clung to a 42-39 lead over the Suns halfway via the second quarter when San Antonio put the ending touches on its win.
The loss unofficially begins an offseason that is stuffed with questions marks for the Lakers. Will Vogel preserve his job? Is there a shakeup in retailer for the entrance workplace? Can the Lakers discover a commerce accomplice for Westbrook and reduce their losses? Will James, coming into the ultimate yr of his deal, signal a contract extension to maintain him in L.A. past his twentieth season within the league?
James, ever cognizant of messaging, confirmed his alignment with the franchise via his apparel on Tuesday. He wore a white T-shirt with “Lake Present” printed on the entrance in purple and gold lettering, that includes caricatures of Laker legends Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Magic Johnson, Jerry West, James Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
No person from the 2021-22 Lakers made the reduce.