The Los Angeles Lakers were officially eliminated from playoff contention after a 111-106 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, making it six-straight seasons without postseason basketball.
For LeBron James, it's the first time he's missed the playoffs since 2005 - a run that includes eight consecutive Finals appearances - falling short after a much-anticipated debut season in the purple and gold.
"Obviously it's been a tough season for all of us," James said following the defeat, via ESPN's Dave McMenamin. "It's not what we signed up for.
"Throughout the year, things happened. Suspensions, injuries, things of that nature. And just not being able to play sustainable basketball for 48 minutes. But you don't even try to wrap your head around it, you just keep pushing. Just try to get better tonight, move on to tomorrow and go from there. Playoffs are never promised. You've got to come out and work. For me personally, you just continue to put the work in and see what you can do to help."
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Since the All-Star break, the Lakers are 3-12 and have had the league's third-worst offence, per NBA.com, with injuries to Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball further compounding their struggles.
While James himself missed 17 games after suffering a groin injury on Christmas Day against the Golden State Warriors, the 34-year-old has no plans of shutting it down for the remainder of the season, admitting that he may scale back his minutes over the remaining 10 games of the season.
"I'm probably going to have a conversation with the coaching staff and my trainer and go from there," he said. "But I love to hoop. S-, I'm going to have five months and not play the game. So, you know, hopefully I can be in as many games as possible."
Despite the turbulent season, James produced strong numbers across the board, averaging 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.1 assists across 52 games.