Even after another tough loss, LeBron James and Lakers aren’t giving up on season

Lebron James drives past Dallas Mavericks' Dorian Finney-Smith on March 1 at Arena.
With 21 regular-season games remaining, Lakers’ LeBron James said he remains confident in a turnaround for the team.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The Lakers have lost three consecutive games coming out of the NBA All-Star break and 11 of their last 15 games. They are seven games below .500 (27-34) in the Western Conference.

The critics see darkness all around the Lakers.

But not LeBron James.


He claims to see some light — if only because the Lakers still have 21 regular-season games remaining.

So, after dropping a 109-104 game to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night at Arena, James explained why he still has confidence in the Lakers to turn this season around.

“Cause we still have games to play,” James said after scoring 26 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. “ Until you stump me out, cut my head off, bury me 12 feet under, then I got a chance. So, that’s my confidence. Obviously at the end of the day we’ve got to come in here and win ballgames and we got to play better. But as long as we got more games to play, we still have a chance. So, that’s my confidence. I hate losing. I feel like poop right now. But tomorrow is a new day and I’m going to be prepared and ready for the Clippers on Thursday. But that’s just my mindset.”

The Lakers rallied but allowed the Dallas Mavericks to come back late in the 109-104 loss on Tuesday at Arena.

That actually seems to be the mindset of all the Lakers.

Russell Westbrook, who missed 12 of his 17 shots and scored just 12 points, explained why he remains confident.

“We’ve beaten the best teams. We’ve lost to some of the worst teams,” Westbrook said. “So, our confidence and my confidence in this group is extremely high because I know what we’re capable of when we put our mind to it and do exactly what we need to do on a night-in, night-out basis.”

Here are three takeaways from the Lakers’ defeat to Dallas.

1. The Lakers are floundering in the standings.

Teams in the seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th positions play in the NBA’s play-in tournament. The Lakers currently reside as the ninth seed in the West, two games ahead of the 10th seed New Orleans Pelicans and 11th seed Portland.

“As far as the play-in, I mean, can’t even really think about that right now,” James said. “Just got to figure out how you can get a ‘dub.’”

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2. The notion of the Lakers falling way behind in games against opponents is now becoming a trend.

They got down by 21 points to the Mavericks and lost. They got down by 32 to the New Orleans Pelicans and lost. They got down by 16 to the Clippers and lost.

The Lakers did take a six-point lead in the fourth quarter against the Mavericks, but still lost the game.

“They made some shots, but the first quarter was alright. … Big second, too many points,” Westbrook said. “But we regrouped in the third, which shows that we have what it takes and we know exactly what we need to do to be able to put ourselves in position to be a team to be able to do that for 48 minutes.”

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3. During the 28-point loss to the Pelicans on Sunday night, a video surfaced on Monday of James, Westbrook and Trevor Ariza having an exchange with some fans sitting behind the Lakers’ bench.

James was asked what that was all about.

“I mean, if you follow my career, I will get into it with a fan. So that wasn’t nothing out of the ordinary for me,” James said. “No matter if it’s a home crowd or a crowd that’s not. … Someone on the opposing side … If you’re cheering or booing, it’s fine, but this guy was literally telling me how to play basketball. So, that’s why he got the response you seen me respond to. So, I mean, that was all that was. Can’t tell me how to play basketball. Not him. Not that guy.”