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LeBron James warns Lakers of still needing to compete even as schedule lightens

January looks kinder for the Lakers with a five-game homestand to start the new year, but LeBron James warns the team to still compete.

Los Angeles Lakers v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

The Lakers had a brutal December schedule with three back-to-backs, two games on holidays and facing stiff competitions like the Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks and Minnesota Timberwolves.

Things are much easier in January with only one back-to-back late in the month and a five-game homestand, the longest time the Lakers have been home all season.

Despite the easier schedule, or perhaps because of it, LeBron James felt compelled to warn the team about getting too comfortable postgame after their defeat against the Pelicans.

“It can help in the sense of giving ourselves an opportunity to not have to travel as much,” James said. “But it can hurt in a sense of where you start to feel comfortable because you’re at home. So, we have to understand that, yes, just because we’re at home doesn’t mean we can relax now. It definitely feels better to be in your own bed but, at the end of the day, we still have to go out and compete because teams are going to come into our building looking to do the same thing they’ve been doing on the road.”

At 39 years old and in year 21, James has seen it all. If he warns the team about not being as focused at home, he speaks from experience.

At .500 and currently the tenth seed in the West, the last thing the Lakers need to do is relax or feel like any team is below their level. The team still has a lot to figure out in terms of starting lineups and player roles all while injuries to key players continue to happen.

For this schedule’s weakness to be true, Los Angeles must play try-hard basketball and execute on the small things— boxing out, rotating to shooters and getting back on defense.

If they start to act privileged, one of these weaker teams will beat them and they’ll soon be an under .500 team despite James and Anthony Davis being available for the vast majority of games and that’s unacceptable.

We’ll see if James’ fears are realized or if the Lakers hit the ground running to start 2024 on Wednesday when they face the Miami Heat to start this month of play.

You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.

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