The Los Angeles Lakers fell to the Philadelphia 76ers 126-121 last night in a strong display without LeBron James. While they did not get the win, they performed well against the fully healthy Philadelphia 76ers. However, it begs the question of the Lakers would have won the game if they had LeBron on the court.
LeBron has carried an incredibly heavy load since the All-Star break, single-handedly spearheading the Lakers' offense in that time. A game of rest was inevitable for him but it was surprising to see it come against a team as good as the 76ers. Maybe the Lakers are cutting their losses on the tough opponents and maximizing winning by using LeBron against weaker opposition.
Skip Bayless decided to question LeBron skipping last night's game against Philly, as he had already skipped the first encounter between the two teams earlier in the season.
LeBron being rested was inevitable, but the timing of the decision will certainly be ammunition for certain fan sections that will take it as LeBron 'ducking' opponents. However, when you are looking at a 37-year-old in Year 19 of his career, it is smart to safeguard LeBron in a game like this.
The Lakers have struggled to push even lower-tier teams to their limit in games this season, so risking LeBron for a blowout against Philadelphia would be a poor decision if all the Lakers get out of it is moral redemption for LeBron to show he is not ducking opponents. It was a calculated decision, and the Lakers supporting cast showed a lot of promise in the game.
Hopefully, this energy can continue over the course of the final games of the season and we can see the Lakers make a genuine push into the playoffs if they can win their two likely play-in games.