On the night when the Lakers were officially eliminated from Western Conference playoff contention, JaVale McGee had the best statistical game of his 11-year career.
The 7-foot center was as active as he has ever been, leading to a career-high 33 points on 15-for-20 shooting and a career-high 20 rebounds.
“It feels good, definitely,” McGee said late Friday night after the Lakers dropped a 111-106 game to the Brooklyn Nets at Staples Center. “I’ve always been a high-percentage shooter, obviously because I’m dunking and laying the ball up. But it’s definitely a blessing.”
McGee also had six blocked shots and collected 12 offensive rebounds.
In McGee’s eyes, his defense is what made him most proud of his performance.
“Definitely the blocks,” McGee said. “I’ve always loved blocking shots. I think offensive rebounds. I think I had like 12. That might have been a career high for me also.”
When McGee signed a one-year, $1.5-million contract last summer, he was confident that the Lakers would be in the playoffs.
Instead, with a record of 31-41, they will miss the postseason for the sixth consecutive season.
“It’s extremely unfortunate that we’re not making the playoffs, something I really wanted to do,” McGee said. “But, some of the times it happens.”
McGee hopes the Lakers give inspired efforts like they did in losing to the Nets and do not just play out the string for 10 games.
“Get wins and play hard. That’s what our mentality is. There is no slacking,” McGee said. “As a team that’s not making the playoffs, I’m planning on playing teams that are supposed to make the playoffs and knocking them out too. Might as well.”
Coach Luke Walton feels the same way as McGee. He wants the Lakers, who have lost five consecutive games, to play their best.
“It’s the same message. And it’s going to be that message every day for the final three weeks. It’s still about players getting better,” Walton said. “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, our organization, to the fans. So it will be a lot of that and I fully expect our guys to continue to give that.”
McGee couldn’t help but lament the injuries this season to key players, including LeBron James (groin), Lonzo Ball (ankle) and Brandon Ingram (shoulder).
“What’s astonishing to me is the rash of injuries that we had this year,” McGee said. “I don’t think I’ve seen anything like this in my life. And the random injuries we had too. BI getting injured just a month ago. That was crazy. Zo being out, which is our best defensive guard. It was just so many injuries. Me being out, I think, like two weeks with pneumonia. It was just a lot of things happening this season that it was just like somebody put a juju on us.”
When: 6:30 p.m., Sunday.
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