LeBron James and 'lost' LA Lakers 'have no answers' to current struggles after being booed off court by home fans following Pelicans thrashing

The Los Angeles Lakers were humbled by the New Orleans Pelicans 123-95 at Crypto.com Arena and when three of their most experienced players and the head coach fronted up to the media afterwards, nobody could explain why

By Stuart Hodge

Lebron James recorded seven turnovers in the Los Angeles Lakers' blowout loss to New Orleans Pelicans, their fifth defeat in six games, as the Lakers were met with a chorus of boos from their own fans during the game

The contrast in LeBron James' demeanour in just a week is quite startling.

From the highs of winning the NBA All-Star Game with his thrilling game-winning basket in his native Ohio and then smiling like a man fully content with life and what it has given him in the post-All-Star Game press conference, to being somewhat disconsolate and definitely annoyed (although veiling it well it under professional camouflage) in his press conference on Sunday evening.

James was probably the best at keeping a lid on his true emotions after the Los Angeles Lakers were thrashed 123-95 by the New Orleans Pelicans on their home floor – a result and performance which led to boos throughout much of the second half culminating in a cacophonous crescendo at the Cypto.com Arena as the home crowd voiced their exasperation with a Los Angeles Lakes side which is now six games below .500 at 27-33.

Even more worrying than that though is the nature of the defeat. It was a game in which the team looked unable to do most of the rudiments of the game correctly at times. The Lakers finished shot a meagre 20 per cent from three-point range and going 7-for-34; they were out-rebounded 51 to 38; they had 23 turnovers in the game and 16 in the first half, the most in a single game for a LeBron James-led team (per The Athletic).

Fairly catastrophic basketball on all fronts. What was even worrying than that if you are a Lakers fan though, is the fact nobody had any answers whatsoever after the game as to how to get better from here.

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LeBron James shouldered personal responsibility and picked his words carefully on more than one occasion. He admitted, though: "I don't have answers for tonight."

Frank Vogel had the fire of anger in his eyes and the nervous energy of a man who knows his neck is first on the block as it's probably VP of basketball operations Rob Pelinka's one remaining twist of hand before he himself is for the chop.

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Russell Westbrook was quite laissez-faire about the whole thing and seemed remarkably at ease with the fact his team had just been blown out by one of their rivals in the play-in race – because that is the reality for the Lakers now.

Dwight Howard literally said he had "no words" to explain where the team goes from here.

Without Anthony Davis, who is having a poor season by his high standards as well, this team looks lost. That was the word Howard used when he asked for his summation on proceedings.

"I really don't have words," said the center, followed by a long pause. "Just to got stay positive, man. I don't like to look backwards and say certain things. But yeah, pretty much lost. Sorry about that."

The apology was from him to reporters but it might as well have been to the fans from the whole team. There was no actual apology for the fans.

Vogel did do his best to try and summarise the wreckage, though.

"You have 23 turnovers you're not going to win," he said. "Some of it is carelessness and some of it is we're ice-cold from the perimeter right now. We're trying to attack the paint and there are five guys in there so we're just trying to execute through that but we've definitely got to be better."

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Westbrook, on the other hand, had a totally different vibe as he spoke to the room. Clearly the 2017 MVP is a "what happens on the floor, stays on the floor" kind of dude. At least when facing the press.

He was by far the most upbeat of the quartet who spoke to the assembled media and insisted the Lakers have to ensure they don't turn on each other inside the locker room.

"Until we are determined and have the determination that we're not going to allow it, especially on our home floor, it will continue to happen to us," Westbrook said.

"What's going on with the season, different things, injuries, even the crowd today booing, it's a lot for people. It can be a lot for somebody that is not accustomed to it. It can take a toll.

"All I'm going to keep doing is stay positive and make sure I keep encouraging my team-mates and keep building confidence in our locker room and make sure that we collectively do not point fingers. That's the easy way out instead of owning what we do, making sure we have each others' backs and being there for your brother. That's all I'm going to keep doing, keep our confidence high, keep our swagger up as we move forward to the end of the year and find a way to get our stride."

Highlights of the game between the New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Lakers in Week 19 of the NBA

When asked if the booing is the kind of thing that a player can end up taking home with them, Westbrook reacted with incredulity.

"Take it home, for what? I've got three beautiful kids in my house. If they're booing, they can take their [backside] home. I don't worry about that, it doesn't bother me at all.

"It's a part [of the game] and I'm not really worried about it at all. That's how I do it, I just let it roll off my shoulder and I go home. As a team it's something we've got to deal with and move forward."

Perhaps that kind of reaction is the result of Westbrook's own experience. He has been booed by the Lakers fanbase on a personal basis this year too and 'Westbrick' trends on social media any time the player has a poor shooting night.

A few days after LeBron James recommitted to the Lakers following speculation about his future, he came in and spoke candidly about the game itself – but this is a man who knows his every word will be wholeheartedly scrutinised, so he was very careful in what he said about team-mates and chose to point the focus at himself.

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"I don't have answers for tonight. From the sixth minute point of the second quarter, through the third: no answers," James said, about the period in the game where the momentum swung decisively towards the Pelicans.

"I played pretty badly tonight. I had some horrible turnovers, four of them were pretty bad. The other three were just bad connections. I could've been a lot better for sure."

James is known as a man who can single-handedly inspire a team to championships and at the very least contending for one. The fact he has competed in ten NBA Finals, including eight consecutively is testament to that.

The Lakers will be getting nowhere near the end-of-season climax for a second competitive year. The most telling part of his stint talking to the press was he asserted that right now "it all starts out with getting a win" for the Lakers.

He then added: "This season is definitely different."

For a serial winner like LeBron James that is no doubt true. With a stretch which includes the Dallas Mavericks, the Los Angeles Clippers, then the Golden State Warriors next as well as 10 road games in the month of March, the Lakers are going to need to try and find those answers. Fast.

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