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LeBron James rebuffs suggestion he 'needs more rest' as Los Angeles Lakers fall to Washington Wizards in overtime

LeBron James played over 40 minutes for the fourth time in February and has played in all 32 of the Los Angeles Lakers' games so far this season; Lakers suffered overtime loss against Washington Wizards on Monday

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James dribbles against the Detroit Pistons during an NBA basketball game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) 0:49
LeBron James says he does not need a rest as the Los Angeles Lakers deal with injuries to Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder

LeBron James dismissed the idea he is being overworked as he played 43 minutes in the Los Angeles Lakers' 127-124 overtime loss to the Washington Wizards on Monday night. 

The 36-year-old posted 31 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds in his fourth outing of at least 40 minutes this month, missing from the free throw line on an and-1 effort that would have seen the Lakers move ahead by one point with 9.8 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

James was 14 of 29 from the field, just two of 10 from beyond the arc and had a season-high eight turnovers, but insisted he has no concerns over his playing time.

"I think this whole narrative of 'LeBron needs more rest' or I should take more rest or I should take time here, it's become a lot bigger than what it actually is," James said post-game. "I've never talked about it, I don't talk about it, I don't believe in it. We all need more rest.

Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook, second from right, shoots as Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma, right, defends along with forward LeBron James during overtime in an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, in Los Angeles. The Wizards won 127-124 in overtime. 2:35
Highlights of the Washington Wizards' clash with the LA Lakers in Week 10 of the NBA

"This is a fast turnaround from last season, and we all wish we could have more rest. But I'm here to work, I'm here to punch my clock in and be available to my team-mates.

"And if I'm hurt or if I'm not feeling well, then we can look at it then. But I have nothing but honest people [advising me], but I'm also honest with myself, as well, and me having a love for the game and me being able to be available to my team-mates is more important than anything."

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Both James and Kyle Kuzma missed three-point attempts on the Lakers' final possession in their bid to tie the score in overtime, leaving Russell Westbrook's layup with 11.6 seconds remaining the decider despite his missed free throw after being fouled inside.

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Westbrook finished the game with 32 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists on the night alongside Bradley Beal's 33 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) shoots in front of Miami Heat forward Kelly Olynyk, left, and forward Jimmy Butler, rear, in the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, in Oklahoma City. 2:23
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"Obviously, I take full responsibility [for] missing that free throw [in the fourth quarter]," James added. "I got to make the free throw up there, it's an easy point for us. But we didn't lose the game there. But I take that responsibility, for sure, and I got to be better."

The Lakers find themselves on a three-game losing streak and have lost four of their last five since losing Anthony Davis to injury against the Denver Nuggets. Point guard Dennis Schroder has also been absent across the winless run.

James has averaged 38.2 minutes per game so far in February in contrast to just 33.9 per game in January, with Monday night's clash the fourth time LA have been taken to overtime in the month, including a double-overtime victory over the Detroit Pistons.

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"I'm not pushing myself," James continued. "I wouldn't say that. I'm going out and playing the game. I'm doing my job, and I'm trying to do it at a high level, but that's been a narrative around the league.

"I have never asked for time off or time throughout the season. And it's growing to a point where it's not even coming from me anymore. It's just like, 'OK, LeBron should take time off' or 'Why is his workload at this?' I've been hearing it for five, six, seven years now, and I'm still going strong. So I don't need a handout, I'm not looking for a handout; my job is to go out when I'm available, when I'm healthy to go out and play, and that's what it's all about."

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