I don’t think LeBron quit. The team got lots of stops in the 4th quarter, but everyone on the team was missing layups and wide open three pointers. You could see LeBron’s inability to change direction on the plays where Young drove by him and scored on two layups in crunch time. LeBron has made a career of making the trailing block on these types of plays.
The death of anything in sports or life is more often the result of a thousand cuts than getting hit by lightning.
Ingram gets so mad at Harden’s flopping and offensive fouls, he gets the first two technical fouls of his career, enters the Rondo-Paul brawl and gets suspended. He’s the only guy who has the size and skill to guard DeRozan, and the Lakers lose two tight games to San Antonio, where DeRozan looks more like LeBron than LeBron, averaging 31 pts, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, while shooting 48%. Then
The Lakers are rolling after the addition of Tyson Chandler, going 11–4, but Aldridge steps under Ingram on a jump shot (flagrant foul) and he sprains his ankle, helping San Antonio win another game where the Lakers blow a 10-point 4th quarter lead.
Five games later McGee gets pneumonia, and the team’s defense collapses in losses to Washington, Brooklyn and Memphis.
Then the Lakers beat Golden State, and lose both LeBron and Rondo followed by blowing double digit leads against Sacramento and the Clippers.
Then Kuzma gets hurt and the team loses a couple of more games they could have won.
After that, the young guys start to play really well but Lonzo gets hurt, and they lose an 18-point lead against Houston in overtime.
Then comes the AD trade disaster, which kills the team’s morale in Indiana.
Then Magic gives a ridiculous “morale boosting” speech in Philadelphia and the team plays no defense in a rout.
And finally, with the trade of Zubac, the Lakers can’t get easy baskets in the paint against one of the worst defenses in the league.
The Lakers have had far more fluky, last minute losses than wins. If only one of those bad breaks hadn’t happened at the exact time it happened, the team would still be 2–5 games above .500, and this entire conversation wouldn’t be happening.
The Lakers still have one last chance to regain their energy and fighting spirit after the All-Star break. The next 10–12 games are bad for the Clippers, Spurs and Suns, while slightly favorable to the Lakers. If they go on a decent winning streak, or win 7 of 10 their next 10 games, they could be back in the 8th spot.
If they don’t, I’ll be writing their obituary.