LOS ANGELES — With the playoffs already out of the image, LeBron James and the Lakers performed for satisfaction in Sunday’s 111-106 win over the Sacramento Kings — and to appease the legendary basketball gods.
“I’d by no means cheat myself,” James instructed Spectrum SportsNet in his on-court interview after recording his eighth triple-double of the season (and 81st of his profession) with 29 factors, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. “I do know we’re out the playoff race, but when I am on the court docket, I’ll play how I play, and I play to win. So, I’ll by no means cheat the sport.
“There’s such a factor referred to as ‘sport gods.’ They usually’re watching it doesn’t matter what you are doing, and it is our obligation to exit and be knowledgeable, and that is what I am about.”
After the competition, James expounded on his method for the 32-41 Lakers, who snapped a five-game shedding streak.
“After I’m on the ground, I’ve obtained to play the sport it doesn’t matter what our circumstances is, irrespective of what number of minutes I am out on the ground, by the basketball gods, I’ve at all times revered the basketball gods,” he mentioned. “If I am on the ground, I’ve obtained to attempt to play as exhausting as I can or do one thing to have an effect on the sport and never cheat the sport. So, if I am on the ground, if I am in uniform, then I’ve obtained to attempt to make issues occur.
“Not saying I’ll make each shot, not saying I’ll make each play or not have any turnovers. However simply attempt to make an influence on the sport and, like I mentioned, I used to be on the ground tonight, and I used to be in a position to make a pair performs to assist make our crew win.”
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L.A. trailed at halftime by some extent after which used a dominant 39-28 third quarter to take management of the sport.
Lakers coach Luke Walton mentioned that even in a misplaced season, he has harassed to his gamers the nice fortune all of them have by being part of the NBA.
“I’ve talked to the crew about it quite a bit, so far as it being an honor and a privilege to play on this league, and we’re teaching on this league, for all of us,” Walton mentioned. “This sport of basketball has allowed us to have unbelievable alternatives in life. In order that’s been extra the message to the group.
“I’ve talked to Bron sporadically all through the season. However the factor — he is aware of it. And I feel he takes it very severe. He is been the face of the NBA for nevertheless a few years now. He is conscious of that, and I feel he takes that duty, he takes it very significantly.”
James, who’s on the primary 12 months of a four-year, $153.three million take care of the Lakers, acknowledged his place within the sport.
“Man, that is simply my love of the sport. I owe it to myself, and clearly with the followers persevering with to point out up, they know we’re not making the playoffs; by me owing it to myself, it robotically provides to our followers after I’m out on the ground,” he mentioned. “So, simply recognize them persevering with to point out up. I owe it to myself. As lengthy I’ll play this sport, I’ve obtained to remain true to it.”
He echoed an Instagram publish from his account on Sunday morning when he made a direct attraction to Lakers followers.
James, who’s on a steered minutes guideline of 32 an evening to shut out the season, performed 35 minutes in opposition to the Kings after his proper knee swelled up from slipping to the ground on the Lakers’ ultimate possession in Friday’s house loss to the Brooklyn Nets.
He was requested if respecting the basketball gods will have an effect on how a lot he performs within the ultimate 9 video games of the season, which incorporates two units of back-to-backs on the Lakers’ schedule.
“It does not issue into that; it components in after I’m on the ground,” James mentioned. “I’ve obtained to proceed to see how my physique feels after I’m on the ground. Like I mentioned, I did not really feel nice immediately, however I felt ok to go on the market, and I simply trusted myself and trusted my determination.”