LeBron James says Lakers need to play with 'urgency'
DETROIT — It has become paramount that the Lakers change the course of their season.
Even with LeBron James in the lineup after missing the previous eight games with an abdominal strain, the Lakers were blown out, 130-108 by the Boston Celtics on Friday night.
The Lakers were considered one of the favorites to win the NBA championship when Russell Westbrook joined forces with James and Anthony Davis, but they are instead moving in the wrong direction.
They are 8-9 on the season. They have 65 games left, but the time to figure things out is now.
"It's never, 'We got 65 games left.' We damn sure need to play better, no matter who is in the lineup," James said after the loss to Boston. "We have our system, and we need to obviously fast-track it and get better with it so we can play, no matter who is out on the floor, we can play at a high level.
"So, it's never that we got 65 games and we'll figure it out then. But there's no level of panic. But there should be some sense of urgency anytime we take the floor. And I feel like we had that at moments throughout this game and then at some points we didn't. So, we got to figure out how we can keep that sense of urgency as close to 48 minutes as possible."
The Lakers' defense has been deplorable lately. After giving up 130 points to the Celtics, the Lakers' defense dropped yet again, ranking next to last in the 30-team NBA, giving up 113.3 points per game.
"We can be an elite defensive team if we want to," Davis said. "Just got to do a better job of bringing that energy and that effort and communication."
The Lakers led the Boston 61-60 after the first half, but they fell apart in the third quarter — a troubling trend that resurfaced in recent home losses to the Minnesota Timberwolves and Chicago Bulls.
That meltdown Friday led to the Lakers getting outscored 70-47 in the second half.
"It's never as bad as it may seem and it's never as good as it may feel," James said. "So, I stay even keeled throughout the whole journey. I understand this is a huge [undertaking]. It's a process for us. And I've always felt comfortable when things are uncomfortable, so I look forward to the process of us trying to get better.
"And us getting better. Not trying. We will get better. We will improve. But us just being uncomfortable. We should be uncomfortable every single day in our film sessions and our walk-throughs and our practices and even when we're on the floor until we right the ship. And then we should be even more uncomfortable when things start to feel good, because, like I said, it's never as good as it may feel and it's never as bad as it may seem."