The Los Angeles Lakers needed to have a few things go their way in order to avoid elimination for another day. They needed the San Antonio Spurs to lose (they didn’t). They needed the New Orleans Pelicans to lose (they didn’t). And most of all, they needed to win against the No. 1-seeded Suns in Phoenix.
Predictably, they didn’t, eventually falling 121-110, with another one of their now-patented fake comebacks making the final score look closer than it should have. The defeat officially eliminated them from contention for the play-in game.
The pattern was a familiar one. The Lakers, missing LeBron James once again, came out with a competitive first half, actually leading 31-28 after the first quarter and only trailing by five points at halftime. But Phoenix put a beatdown on them after the break, leading by 24 midway through the third quarter and never being seriously threatened again.
For a Lakers team that has mastered the art of laying down once an opponent shows the slightest bit of fight or ability, and possesses the collective spiritual resilience of a frog being boiled alive, it was a fitting end to their season.
On the bright side, at least we never have to watch this specific group of players participate in a game that even slightly mathematically matters again. That’s a solid silver lining in a year without a whole lot of them for anyone who bleeds purple and gold.
The Lakers will next head to Golden State to take on the Warriors on Thursday as their trudge towards the official end of the season continues. But with the results tonight, it will be interesting to see how they approach that one, because what has been clear for a while is finally official: This team has nothing left to play for.