Legendary superstar LeBron James will miss the NBA playoffs for the first time since 2005 as the Los Angeles Lakers were officially eliminated with a 111-106 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.
The four-time league MVP James also had his eight-year run to the NBA finals snapped on Friday night as the loss takes the lowly Lakers out of the playoff picture for a franchise record sixth straight season.
“It is a tough season for all of us,” James said. “It is not what we signed up for. You don’t even try to wrap your head around it. Just keep pushing. The playoffs are never a promise, you got to put in the work.”
James had 25 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to get the victory in a tight contest that featured plenty of lead changes.
The last time the NBA’s best player wasn’t in the postseason was in 2004-05, his second season with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
James played in Friday’s contest at Staples Center Arena despite missing games recently to get rest for his lingering groin injury.
He also took a hard tumble against the Nets after slipping on the baseline while driving to the basket with 22 seconds left in the fourth. He left the game for one possession, then returned.
James shot eight-of-25 from the floor in 35 minutes of action as the Lakers are 2-11 in their last 13 games.
Joe Harris scored 26 points and former Laker D’Angelo Russell tallied 21 points and 13 assists for the Nets, who are in the midst of a seven game road trip.
JaVale McGee had career highs of 33 points and 20 rebounds along with six blocked shots to lead the Lakers.
When James signed with the storied franchise before the season, few expected him to extend his streak of finals appearances to nine straight, but not many thought it would be due to a failure to get into the playoffs.
It has been a season of blown opportunities, broken promises and with the Lakers now officially out of contention late in the season, it leaves the coaching staff and the front office under fire.
With the rebuilding Lakers limiting James’ minutes down the stretch, the forward had sat out two of the past three games heading into the Nets’ game.
He did not play in last Friday in the Lakers’ 111-97 loss at Detroit or Tuesday on Los Angeles’ 115- 101 loss to Milwaukee.
Three-time champion James was doing his part by averaging 27.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, and eight assists this season, but he hasn’t gotten consistent help from an injury-depleted and inexperienced supporting staff.