The Lakers lost again Wednesday night, their fourth loss in a row, and eighth in ten games. Since January 1 they’re a crummy 9–19, and they’re now five games under .500 with 17 left to play, and 6.5 back of the Western Conference eighth seed. They’re dead.
LeBron passed Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list early in Wednesday’s loss. It was a nice little moment. LeBron got emotional. The crowd cheered. Fine, here’s a video:
That’s not the moment I want to talk about. Oh no. Late in the fourth quarter, with the Lakers having pissed away all the work they did to turn what had been a 23-point deficit into a one-possession game, Rajon Rondo and LeBron tried the old walk-the-dog trick to advance the ball without starting the clock. Things were desperate. Denver’s lead was back up to 13 points; the game clock read 2:22; the home crowd was going from antsy to furious. This was an important possession—it was, in fact, the final important possession of the game, and also Los Angeles’s season. Here’s why:
That is maybe one of the funniest basketball plays I have ever seen? Of all the out-like-a-lamb-ass ways for this dreadful Lakers season to end, LeBron just rolled the ball right out of bounds and then handed it to the nearest referee. With the last desperate hope of salvaging their season sinking into a bog of pure shit, the Lakers had LeBron on the floor with Rondo, Josh Hart, Moritz Wagner, and Alex Caruso, and LeBron got too cute and literally reached down and pushed the ball out of bounds. At one point this season the Lakers had a .588 win percentage and were sitting in fourth place in the West, and now they’re so demoralized that Rondo won’t even sit in the same area code as his teammates:
Also this happened:
So that’s it, then! So long, Lakers. It was fun for roughly three weeks, three damn months ago. At least the season has now provided us with the indelible image of an exhausted LeBron James peacefully euthanizing his own team’s fading playoff hopes by just rolling the ball a couple inches out of bounds.