The Lakers officially have been eliminated from the playoffs for the sixth season in a row, but coach Luke Walton remained optimistic Friday.
The deciding game on Los Angeles’ playoff hopes came Friday when the Lakers fell 111-106 to the Nets. When asked how it feels to have been eliminated, Walton played it coy as he revealed that his message going forward will be the same and he just wants his players to embrace the final stretch of games.
“It’s going to be that message every day for the final three weeks,” Walton told reporters. “It’s still about players getting better. It’s still about going out there and respecting the game and giving everything we have to try to win. We owe that, like I said, to ourselves, our teammates, the organization, to the fans.”
🎥 Luke talks about what led to JaVale’s career-high night. pic.twitter.com/Yo8bv91MvM
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) March 23, 2019
With the Lakers are on a five-game losing streak, Walton said his team will have to find a way to win their next game against the Kings in order to reverse the pattern.
“It’s just tough when you’re down and you’re losing games,” Walton said, “and it seems that all the bounce is the calls, all the 50-50 things just happen to go against you.
“So that’s not me feeling sorry for us. That’s me telling the guys, look, we got to keep playing this hard and find a way to scrap the next win out because it’s the only way to get off the type of skid that we’re on. But I do give our guys a lot of credit for coming and competing like that again tonight. Unfortunately, it ended up in a loss again.”
Hopes were high in Los Angeles that the Lakers would make the playoffs for the first time since the 2012-2013 season when they signed LeBron James to a four-year contract. Instead, Los Angeles is 31-41 and sits 11th in the Western Conference. This will mark only the third time in James’ 16 NBA seasons he has missed the playoffs.