The contrast in the demeanor of LeBron James in just seven days is very startling.
From winning the 2022 NBA All-Star Game with his amazing match-winning basket in Ohio – his native, and then wearing a smile of a man satisfied with life and what it has offered him in the post-All-Star Game presser, to being somewhat definitely annoyed and disconsolate in his presser on Sunday evening.
LeBron was probably perfect at keeping a lid on his emotions after Los Angeles Lakers loss 123-95 to New Orleans Pelicans on their home court – a display and result which led to boos at the Cypto.com Arena as the home spectators voiced their anger with a Lakers side which is now six matches below .500 at 27-33.
Even more disturbing than that though is the manner of the loss. It was a contest in which the side looked unable to do most of the basics of the game of basketball correctly at times. The Lakers ended shot a meager 20 percent from 3-point range and going 7-for-34; they were clearly out-rebounded 51 to 38; they recorded 23 turnovers in the match and 16 in the first half of the contest, the most in a single match for a LeBron James-led side, which might led to him not being included in the FlashPicks of the week just to reveal how poor the team have been.
Undoubtedly a catastrophic basketball game on all fronts. What was even more disturbing than that if you are a Lakers supporter though, is the fact nobody had any answers be it as it may after the contest as to how to improve from here.
LeBron James took full responsibility for the loss and picked his words carefully. He admitted: “I don’t have answers for tonight.”
Frank Vogel was clearly angered by the outcome and you could see in him the nerves of a man who knows his neck is first on the block as it’s probably Vice President of basketball operations at the side Rob Pelinka’s one left twist of hand before he himself is chopped off.
Russell Westbrook was indifferent about the entire thing and looked strangely at ease with the fact his side had just been blown out by a rival side in the play-in race – because that is the true picture for the Lakers now.
Dwight Howard literally admitted he had “no words” to explain where his team goes from this point.
Without Anthony Davis, who is currently having a poor campaign by his high standards also, this team looks entirely lost. That was the word Dwight Howard used when he questioned for his summation on the situation.
“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 backward and say certain things. But yeah, pretty much lost. Sorry about that.”
The apology was from himself to the pressmen but it might as well have been to the supporters from the entire team. There was no apology for the supporters.
Vogel did try to summarise the wreckage.
“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.”
On the other hand, Westbrook, had a completely different vibe as he talked to the room. The 2017 MVP clearly is a “what happens on the floor, stays on the floor” kind of guy. At least when facing the media.
He was the most upbeat of them all who spoke to the media and insisted the Los Angeles Lakers have to make sure they don’t turn on each other inside the dressing 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.”