LeBron James reflected on the Los Angeles Lakers' official elimination from playoff contention, saying the team's tough season was 'not what we signed up for'.
Friday night's scores
- Oklahoma City Thunder 116-109 Toronto Raptors
- San Antonio Spurs 105-111 Houston Rockets
- Miami Heat 87-116 Milwaukee Bucks
- Brooklyn Nets 111-106 Los Angeles Lakers
- Denver Nuggets 111-93 New York Knicks
- Los Angeles Clippers 110-108 Cleveland Cavaliers
- Memphis Grizzlies 119-123 Orlando Magic (OT)
The Lakers (31-41) will miss the playoffs for a franchise-record sixth straight season even with James, who fell just short of his 81st career triple-double with 25 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds.
The Lakers had only missed the playoffs five times in their first 55 seasons of existence before this current drought.
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"It's been a tough season for all of us," James said. "It's not what we signed up for.
"Throughout the year, things happen. Suspensions, injuries, and us just not being able to play sustainable basketball for 48 minutes.
"You don't even try to wrap your head around it. You just keep playing and try to get better and go from there."
Nets guard D'Angelo Russell took no public pleasure in playing a pretty big role in eliminating the Lakers from playoff contention for yet another season.
Russell is much more excited about the increasing likelihood that he's about to make his postseason debut with the Brooklyn Nets.
Russell, who was drafted by the Lakers in 2015 and traded away two years later, added 21 points and 13 assists against his former team to help the Nets to improve to 38-36 for the season.
Russell had seven points and three assists in the fourth quarter while Brooklyn held on for the win. He hit two big three-pointers down the stretch, and he raised his finger to his lips to shush his former fans in the Staples Center crowd.
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But Russell said it was nothing personal, and he didn't think much about putting the final nail in the Lakers' playoff hopes.
"Sounds good on paper, but at the end of the day, we're not playing them," Russell said. "We're not competing against them for seeding, so the win is good enough."
Russell was well-liked by Lakers fans but not by Magic Johnson, who dumped Russell in a trade to get rid of Timofey Mozgov's onerous contract just a few months after the Hall of Famer took over the Lakers' basketball operations.
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"This is definitely where I started," said Russell, who has previously acknowledged being irked by Magic's parting comments about his leadership. "It's definitely a place that gave me an opportunity. Not many guys started somewhere and then that was forgotten throughout their career. You know, Chauncey Billups, the (Steve) Nashes of that group, so I'm trying to consider myself one of those guys."
Russell has grown into an All-Star in Brooklyn, while the Lakers have stayed in largely the same place in the standings despite adding James last summer.