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Lakers newsletter: Tired? LeBron James doesn’t know the meaning of the word

Hi, this is Dan Woike, Lakers beat writer for the Los Angeles Times, here with your Lakers newsletter.

In the final seconds of the Lakers win against the Atlanta Hawks, LeBron James flipped the ball ahead to Alex Caruso and headed to the locker room right before the final horn.

The team’s videographer, Rohan Ali, hustled in front of James and focused his lens on the 36-year-old superstar as he power-walked toward the visiting locker room.

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“That’s how you close out a road trip. Tired, 14 days, 13 days whatever the hell it is don’t mean nothing,” he said. “Tired is only in the mind. You tell yourself you’re tired, you’re going to be tired.

“I don’t get tired.”

It was a brilliant 30-second window into James’ mentality – the endless energy that’s helped extend his prime into his 18th season.

It also, it turns out, is just a part of the story.

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After three combined overtimes in two wins against the Pistons and the Thunder, James plopped his body down on the Lakers’ scorer’s table for a quick rest. In his postgame interview, multiple yawns escaped from his mouth.

It made his “I’m not tired” proclamations a little less convincing.

I asked him about it, if he and his team were gassed now that they’re more than a third of the way through the season. He scoffed at the notion that he was even a little gassed.

“I mean, I can sleep right now because the game is over. I’m decompressing now,” James said. “But, s---, if we have more time to play, I’m ready to go. I can play right now if I need to go. All I need is a warm-up. I can go into the weight room, get warmed up and I can go right now. …I can’t speak for the team. I don’t know if the team is tired. But I’ll be ready to go.

“When do we play again, Wednesday? I’ll be ready to go.”

LeBron James lays on a table during a timeout in overtime against the Thunder
LeBron James lays on a table during a timeout in overtime against the Thunder at the Staples Center on Monday.
(Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)

The Lakers have won five in a row, but it’s been a weird streak with the team’s three-point shooting violently plummeting during the last two weeks.

In their last five, the Lakers are shooting only 31.1% from three – fourth-worst in the NBA over the last five ahead of only Washington, Cleveland and Detroit. This is not good company.

I asked Frank Vogel if the Lakers were finally seeing some cumulative fatigue build up from the team’s abbreviated offseason. He didn’t say ‘No.’

“Possibly, but we’re not looking at that. We don’t want to make excuses,” Vogel said. “It’s just the situation we’re in. This is the hand we’ve been dealt and we’re not looking at that as an excuse, we’ve just got to keep grinding and putting in the work. That’s what our culture’s been about here.”

But it’s really only an excuse if it’s invented. This is real. The Lakers are just committed to fighting through it.

“I mean, yeah, they had a few weeks off. They were the champs, they were in the Finals,” Dennis Schroder said. “But we’re still practicing: Our games are our practice. So we gotta get in shape. I think when playoff time hits, that’s when we’re going to be at our best.

“So just try to keep building, try to get better each day, each game, and when playoff hits, we just try to be in our prime.”

Cutting room floor

A quote from Dwane Casey that didn’t make it into my LeBron James’ feature from earlier this week was too good not to share:

“Going against Jordan and Kobe and LeBron, LeBron’s right there at the top as far as all those things are concerned as far as conditioning, student of the game, intellect, basketball intellect, the whole gamut. You can just give him every adjective you want to give him. He falls under that. You look in the dictionary and see a picture of a perfect basketball player, that guy’s there. You hate playing against him. But as a basketball fan and when you’re not coaching against him, you enjoy watching him play because you see the nuances he brings to the table.”

Chat-a-long

With our watch-a-long party for Lakers-Bucks going so well a few weeks back, we’re going to try and put together a chat with myself, a few former NBA players, some select fans and other folks at the Times. It should be a cool experience to see what a different group of people think about the same game (and whether it’s via text or tweet/people following along can reach out to ask questions and comment along).

We’re going to do this a week from Thursday for Lakers-Nets. Make sure you’re subscribed to Full-Court Text to get all the details.

This week on Full Court Text, we’ve been talking MVP award and Anthony Davis – bad news – they were in two different conversations.

Sign up for Full Court Text and join the fun by clicking here.

Song of the week

Beastie Boys "No Sleep Till Brooklyn"

Beastie Boys “No Sleep Till Brooklyn”

The Lakers play the Nets at Staples Center a week from Thursday, Then, at least for a minute, they can rest. Unrelated, the Beastie Boys book from Michael Diamond and Adam Horowitz is just terrific. Awesome story of friendship, 80’s New York City and the music business. Also, so many great photos.

What’d you miss?

Wesley Matthews, odd man out of Lakers’ rotation, appreciated Frank Vogel’s honesty

Dennis Schroder continues to provide a spark for the Lakers

LeBron James calls NBA All-Star game plan ‘a slap in the face’

Until next time...

As always, pass along your thoughts to me at daniel.woike@latimes.com, and please consider subscribing if you like our work!


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