LOS ANGELES – After more than 40 minutes of logging for the fourth time this month, just to see those Los Angeles Lakers lose 127-124 in overtime to the Washington Wizards on Monday evening, Lebron James insisted that he can handle the workload that is required of him.
“I think this whole ‘LeBron needs more rest’ story or I should take more rest or I should take my time here, it’s gotten 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 quick turnaround from last season, and we all wish we could have more rest. But I am here to work, I am here to turn on my watch and be available to my teammates.
“And if I’m hurt, or if I’m not feeling well, then we can see it. But all I have is honest people [advising me]But I’m also honest with myself and it’s more important than anything that I love the game and be available to my teammates. “
James played the Wizards for 43 minutes, racking up 31 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds, but admitted that he wasn’t his fiercest.
He played all but one minute and six seconds of the fourth quarter and overtime and scored 13 points, but shot 6-13 (0-4 out of 3) and had four of his eight strong turnovers during that period. He also walked 3-1 off the free-throw line, including a failure on a 1-1 attempt that would have increased LA by one with 9.8 seconds in the fourth quarter.
“Of course I take full responsibility [for] I missed that free throw, “said James.” I have to take the free throw up there. That’s an easy point for us. But we didn’t lose the game there. But I definitely take this responsibility and I have to get better. “
For the first month and a half of this season, Lakers coach Frank Vogel was certainly better at managing the 18 year old veteran’s minutes. Prior to February, James had played an average of 33.3 minutes per game. This was 43rd in the league and, according to ESPN Stats & Information, the lowest playing time of his career.
As of the beginning of the month, James has averaged 38.2 minutes in 11 games – most in the NBA – and LA is starting to struggle after losing four of its last five games since then Anthony Davis aggravated his Achilles tendonitis while putting strain on his right leg against the calf Denver nuggets.
“I’m not rushing,” said James, 36, who has played all 32 LA games this season. “I wouldn’t say that. I go out and play the game. I do my job and I try to do it at a high level, but that was a league tale.
“I’ve never asked for free time or free time throughout the season. And it’s growing to a point where it doesn’t even come from me. It’s just like ‘OK, LeBron should take time off’ or ‘Why is his workload included? ” ? ‘I’ve been hearing it for five, six, seven years now and I’m still strong. So I don’t need a handout, I don’t look for a handout, my job is to go out when I’m available, when I’m healthy, to go out and play and that’s what it’s all about. “
James has never played such a shortened schedule, but only for a 71-day off-season.
Vogel was asked if he had considered keeping James out of the line-up to keep the Lakers captain fresh, with a replay being the team’s ultimate goal.
“We considered that with him all season. And we will make these decisions game by game,” said Vogel.
LA guard Alex Caruso compared the Lakers’ current slide – three losses for a season while Davis and Point Guard were absent Dennis Schroder – LA had about a third of the way to four-game skid last season. And Lakers Center Montrezl Harrell said the team’s struggles caused “a lot of soul searching”.
As for James, the heart and soul of the defending champion, Vogel praised his work, even as losses pile up.
“He’s a workhorse,” said Vogel. “He’s doing everything he can for us.”