LeBron James on Lakers' Loss to Pelicans: 'It Pretty Much Was a Must-Win for Us'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVApril 2, 2022

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 1: LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the game against the New Orleans Pelicans on April 1, 2022 at Crypto.Com Arena in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)
Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

The potential ramifications of Friday's 114-111 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans were not lost on Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James.

"The big picture is that it pretty much was a must-win for us, and we didn't get the job done," James told reporters following the defeat. "We had great opportunities throughout the night, and we didn't make enough plays down the stretch. So that's the big picture."

With the result, the Lakers are now a full game behind the San Antonio Spurs for the final play-in berth in the Western Conference. 

The sense of urgency seemed to be reflected by the availability of James and Anthony Davis. Hours before the tip, they were both listed as questionable to play, with Davis having been out since Feb. 16 because of a mid-foot sprain.

Not only did LeBron and AD play, but they also combined for 61 points and 20 rebounds.

As much as the Lakers missing the play-in tournament altogether would be considered a catastrophic failure, it's an outcome some fans might welcome at this point. Why extend a season that has been miserable almost from start to finish?

shannon sharpe @ShannonSharpe

Just cancel the rest of the season for the Lakers. They refuse to play defense or stop turning the ball over. Only a few gms left. F’ing embarrassing

Harrison Faigen @hmfaigen

Honestly we should be thanking this team for saving us from having to watch them any more than this. 82 games is enough.

Overtaking the Spurs won't be easy since San Antonio has the head-to-head tiebreaker over Los Angeles, so that one-game deficit is in effect two.

And the Lakers have to make up that ground over a five-game stretch that includes two matchups with the Denver Nuggets, one with the Golden State Warriors (sans Stephen Curry) and one against the top-seeded Phoenix Suns, along with a game versus the Oklahoma City Thunder, who they're 1-2 against this season.

The final push isn't easy for the Spurs, though. They play the tanking Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday and then finish up with the Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Warriors and Dallas Mavericks.

But that will offer little in the way of hope for Los Angeles considering it's riding a five-game losing streak at the most pivotal point of the year.