James vows to push forward as Lakers meet Wizards
As the Los Angeles Lakers and Washington Wizards wind down their disappointing seasons, don't expect their superstars to coast to the finish line.
Los Angeles hosts the Wizards on Tuesday night, and Lakers forward LeBron James hasn't show any signs of letting up. He recorded the 81st triple-double of his career in a 111-106 win against the visiting Sacramento Kings on Sunday night, finishing with 29 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists.
"When I'm on the floor, I've got to play my game no matter what our circumstances are, no matter how many minutes I'm on the floor," he said. "I've always respected the basketball gods. If I'm on the floor, I've got to play as hard as I can, or do something to affect the game, and not cheat the game."
James, who signed with the Lakers as a free agent in the offseason, has recovered from the groin injury that sidelined him 17 games in the middle of the season but lately has been dealing with a left knee contusion. James wouldn't guarantee he would play in all nine remaining games, but when he's on the floor, he will try to give the fans their money's worth.
"That's just my love of the game," he said.
"With the fans continuing to show up, even though they know we're not making the playoffs, by me owing it to myself, it automatically gives to our fans when I'm out on the floor. So, I just appreciate them continuing to show up. I owe it to myself as long as I'm playing this game."
Washington forward Bradley Beal is wrapping up the best season of his seven-year NBA career. He is averaging career bests of 25.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 5.6 assists, but the loss of backcourt mate John Wall to a torn Achilles in December has taken its toll.
"The whole game plan is to take Brad away," Beal said.
"That's from the get-go. We all know that going into a game. We know that in (the locker room); the other team knows that. I can hear them on the bench saying it. It's not rocket science. Take the ball away and force everyone else to make plays."
Beal has been held under 20 points twice during the current four-game losing streak. The Wizards (30-44) will be trying to avoid matching their longest losing streak of the season.
Los Angeles (32-41) will get another up-close look at Washington center Thomas Bryant, who played for the Lakers last season before they waived him in June to make salary-cap room for James. The Wizards claimed him two days later, and he has appeared in 64 games, starting 45.
Bryant is averaging 9.9 points and 5.8 rebounds. He is coming off his 10th double-double of the season, totaling 17 points and 11 rebounds in a 113-108 loss to the Miami Heat on Saturday.
The Lakers have gone with veteran JaVale McGee at center, and he is playing his best basketball of the season.
McGee had career highs of 33 points and 20 rebounds in a 111-106 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, and came back with 17 points and 14 rebounds in the win against the Kings. He blocked a total of 11 blocks in those games.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 25, 2019