US Sports Desk, Mar 18 (EFE).– A dozen games remain in the Los Angeles Lakers’ disappointing first season with the services of all-time great LeBron James, but the only question that remains is when they will be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.
The Lakers (31-39) on Sunday stumbled to perhaps their most embarrassing loss of the season, squandering an 11-point lead down the final stretch of the fourth quarter in a 124-123 road defeat to the lowly New York Knicks (14-56).
James, a four-time NBA Most Valuable Player who led the Miami Heat to two championships and his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers to one, was unable to be the difference maker for his team at Madison Square Garden, going 4-of-15 from the field in that final quarter.
He also was slammed by a retired Hall of Fame player and current Knicks announcer, Walt Frazier, who said during the telecast that James “doesn’t really care” and was not behaving in a manner commensurate with his role as the face of the franchise and the NBA.
During a break in the action, James sat down on the end of the Lakers’ bench, chatted with an injured player who was in street clothes and showed no interest in his teammates or head coach Luke Walton.
“This type of behavior is not … when you’re the face of the NBA, I think you should be more a part of your team, folks. No matter what is going on,” Frazier said.
“In public, I think you’ve got to be a part of your team. In the locker room, you’re not, but you have to exude that type of togetherness in public, folks. And right now we see he doesn’t really care.”
Frazier also said James’ conduct was part of the reason Walton’s job is rumored to be in jeopardy.
James still put up solid numbers in a losing effort, finishing the contest with 33 points, six rebounds and eight assists. He had been given the night off in the previous game, in which the Lakers lost on the road to the Detroit Pistons 111-97.
The Lakers, who are 11th in the Western Conference and are far out of the playoff picture, have now lost for the 25th time in their last 36 games after a promising start to the season.
That storied franchise had high hopes after acquiring James in free agency prior to the 2018-2019 season, and there was even more cause for optimism after the Lakers went on the road and routed the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors 127-101 on Christmas Day to run their record to 20-14.
But James injured his groin in that game and the team then went 6-11 in his absence.
Questions about whether that injury is still lingering have persisted due to the team’s continued struggles (5-14) since his return to the lineup in late January.