Defending NBA champions the Lakers have lost three games in a row and four of their last five after going down 127-124 in overtime on Monday (February 22).
James missed a free-throw with 10 seconds left in regulation time and did not connect with his last four three-point attempts in the fourth quarter and OT as the Lakers surrendered a 17-point lead.
The 36-year-old played for over 43 minutes. He has not missed a game this season and has clocked up over 200 minutes more than anyone on the Lakers roster, with star team-mate Anthony Davis out injured.
James still had 31 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds in a productive outing, but acknowledged he had not been at his best.
The Lakers (22-10) have gone to OT four times in the last 17 days, losing this one as Bradley Beal (33) and Russell Westbrook (32) combined for 65 points.
“This whole narrative of ‘LeBron needs more rest’ or I should take more rest or I should take time here, it’s become a lot bigger than what it actually is,” James told reporters after the game, per ESPN.
“I’ve never talked about it, I don’t talk about it, I don’t believe in it.
“We all need more rest, s***. This is a fast turnaround from last season, and we all wish we could have more rest. But I’m here to work, I’m here to punch my clock in and be available to my team-mates.
“And if I’m hurt or if I’m not feeling well then we can look at it then, but I have nothing but honest people around me [advising me].
“I’m also honest with myself as well, and me having a love for the game and me being able to be available to my team-mates is more important than anything.
“Obviously I take full responsibility [for] missing that free throw. I got to make the free throw up there, it’s an easy point for us.
“We didn’t lose the game there, but I take that responsibility for sure, and I got to be better.”
The current NBA standings following Monday night’s action! pic.twitter.com/bCYu03trvC
— NBA (@NBA) February 23, 2021
James added about his workload: “I’m not pushing myself. I’m doing my job and I’m trying to do it at a high level, but that’s been a narrative around the league.
“I have never asked for time off or time throughout the season. And it’s growing to a point where it’s not even coming from me anymore. I’ve been hearing it for five, six, seven years now and I’m still going strong.
“So, I don’t need a handout, I’m not looking for a handout, my job is to go out when I’m available, when I’m healthy to go out and play and that’s what it’s all about.”
“It’s something I’ve done before,” James added about the packed schedule and an upcoming All-Star game. “I can continue to do it, but I would much rather us be whole.”
Lakers coach Frank Vogel called James “a workhorse” and said he would make decisions about the veteran on a game-by-game basis.
A game at Western Conference leaders the Utah Jazz is next on Wednesday (February 24).
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