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‘We are performing poorly at the moment’

LeBron James expressed his raw emotions on Friday after the Los Angeles Lakers’ 127-113 defeat to the Memphis Grizzlies.

Despite putting up 32 points, James struggled from the free-throw line and had three turnovers in the fourth quarter. When questioned about the game, James’s responses became more direct.

“We are not performing up to the mark right now,” James stated after several queries during his media session.

This loss marks the 10th in 13 games and the fourth consecutive one for Los Angeles. It highlighted the team’s struggles as they allowed a season-high 23 three-pointers, despite Memphis having the worst three-point shooting percentage in the league. The Lakers had a chance to clinch victory with a tied score after the third quarter, but the game slipped away as the Grizzlies outscored them by 14 points in the final quarter.

Things took a light-hearted turn when James was asked about former Cleveland Cavaliers guard Ricky Rubio, who retired on Thursday.

“I’m not really in the mood to answer that question, but I respect Ricky. Congratulations on a great career, and if I seem insincere in this video, it’s because we had a tough time on the court again,” James expressed. “I apologize. The timing of the question wasn’t great.”

Lakers head coach Darvin Ham had a different stance post-match, emphasizing the need to see the bigger picture.

“I’m tired of people’s overreactions after every single game. It’s actually ridiculous,” Ham addressed reporters. “We hit a rough patch. We are the same team. We played some high-quality games not too long ago, and we need to go back to that. We must maintain our resilience. We can’t give up.”

The high-quality games mentioned by Ham refer to the Lakers winning the In-Season Tournament Championship on Dec. 9 in Las Vegas. However, since then, Los Angeles has only managed to defeat the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Charlotte Hornets in four weeks.

James dismissed the notion of finding encouragement from the tournament.

“That was merely two games,” James remarked. “It was a small sample. Everyone is making a big deal about Vegas, they keep bringing it up. It was just two games. We took care of business there… but that was simply two games.”

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) handles the ball during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves Saturday, Dec. 30, 2023, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Matt Krohn)

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James is tired of losing. (AP Photo/Matt Krohn)

Memphis displayed determination in securing the victory on Friday. Four players, led by Jaren Jackson Jr.’s 31 points, scored 20 or more.

Even Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins seemed ready for his own confrontation in the third quarter. He ran onto the floor mid-game after James escaped without being called for a foul on Jackson. Surprisingly, Jenkins avoided expulsion and apologized after his team’s win.

Currently, the Los Angeles Lakers have a 17-19 record and are placed 11th in the Western Conference. Their next game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday is no easy task, given the Clippers have only lost two of their last 16 games.

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