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NBA

LA Lakers eliminated from NBA playoffs after defeat to Phoenix

LA Lakers, led by LeBron James, NBA champions in 2020, have been mathematically eliminated from a post-season play-off place following defeat at the hands of Phoenix.

Update:
Apr 5, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis reacts against the Phoenix Suns at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. RebilasUSA TODAY Sports

The 2020 NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention on Tuesday, capping a miserable season for the team led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

With Tuesday’s 121-110 loss to the Phoenix Suns, the Lakers are 11th in the Western Conference with a record of 31 wins and 48 losses.

With only three games left in the regular season, the Lakers have no way of taking the 10th place playoff (play-in) spot from the San Antonio Spurs (34-45).

D.J. Augustin #4 of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the ball against Cameron Payne #15 of the Phoenix Suns during the first half of the NBA game at Footprint Center
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D.J. Augustin #4 of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the ball against Cameron Payne #15 of the Phoenix Suns during the first half of the NBA game at Footprint CenterChristian PetersenAFP

LeBron James, who missed Tuesday’s game against the Suns due to injury, will now miss the playoffs for only the fourth time in his 19-year career, in which he has played in 10 NBA Finals and won four titles.

At 37, ‘King James has had a spectacular individual campaign, averaging 30.3 points per game, but a sprained ankle has kept him out of the last two games when the Lakers were already on the brink of the abyss.

Anthony Davis, also hobbled by a knee injury, made a final push Tuesday, playing 36 minutes and posting 21 points and 13 rebounds.

The effort of Davis and point guard Russell Westbrook (28 points) was insufficient against the high-flying Suns, the best team of this regular phase that comes to an end next Sunday.

The Lakers fought back for two quarters and went into halftime trailing by five points (63-58), but after coming out after the interval, Devin Booker ignited the Suns (with 32 points) as they accelerated to a 24-point lead (90-74) in the third quarter.

Spurs win condemns the Lakers

The Lakers result combined with the San Antonio Spurs comeback win (116-97) over the Denver Nuggets condemned the fate for the LA based franchise with it now mathematically impossible for the Lakers to secure tenth place and a tilt at the play-in.

“I’m extremely disappointed for my fans, for the Buss family (owners),” said Los Angeles coach Frank Vogel. “We came up short. We’re eliminated and I can tell you it wasn’t for lack of effort, the guys fought to the end,” stressed Vogel, whose continued tenure is seriously in question.

“We came up short. We’re eliminated and I can tell you it wasn’t for lack of effort”

Frank Vogel (Lakers coach)

Tuesday’s elimination is the end of a nightmarish season for the Lakers, the NBA’s most successful franchise along with the Boston Celtics, who were considered one of the big favorites for the ring.

At the top of a long list of causes are the lack of adaptation of Westbrook, signed this season to be the third star of the team, the poor configuration of the roster and long-term injuries to Davis and LeBron.

Last year the Lakers already had to resort to the playoffs to qualify for the playoffs, where they lost in the first round to the Suns.

By the time their game in Phoenix got underway, the Lakers’ backs were already against the wall with the Spurs’ win over the Denver Nuggets.