LeBron James focused on playoff push after All-Star Game loss

There are no secrets, no hidden agendas, no questions to ask.

LeBron James was crystal clear – there is an acceptable result for the rest of this season.

“That’s 23 of the most important games of my career for a regular season,” he said ahead of Sunday’s All-Star game at Vivint Arena.

And after a little shock, James has to deal with it next.

James missed the second half with a hand injury as Team Giannis beat Team LeBron 184-175. Boston’s MVP-elected Jayson Tatum scored 55 points for Team Giannis, breaking Anthony Davis’ singles All-Star Game record.

If the NBA resumes, the Lakers need to be in a sprint — the team is two games from last play-in spot and 4 ½ games from No. 6.

James spoke before the game on Sunday before becoming captain and assembling his team for the All-Star Game, and while he answered several questions about breaking the league’s all-time record, James insisted his focus lies elsewhere.

“I want to make a push to get to the playoffs,” James said. “I don’t want to see that I’m not a part of the postseason for two years. It’s just not part of my DNA. We’re sitting up here and we’re talking about the record and things like that and it’s all cool, but I’m more passionate about trying to make the postseason and give us a chance to fight for another Larry O’Brien Trophy. I just am. I’m cut off from that.

“I’m hoping I can find a way to make sure I’m available on the floor for those 23 games every night to give us a chance, give our group a chance to play every night and give ourselves a chance give a chance to win every night so we can give ourselves a chance to get into the postseason.

James has been struggling with foot and ankle injuries this season, the Lakers have won just five times in the 14 games he missed. James played in the Lakers’ last game before the break after missing the previous three.

He didn’t play for the second half of Sunday after slamming a finger on his right hand on the rim, but it’s not an injury the Lakers are worried about. James planned to play sparingly on Sunday.

Clippers star Paul George of Team LeBron goes up to a dunk during Sunday's NBA All-Star Game.

Clippers star Paul George of Team LeBron goes up to a dunk during Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game.

(Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

“The most important thing for me right now is to keep my health and to be available for my teammates after this break because we have to push hard if we want to do something special,” he said.

Sunday’s game began with a playground-style draft. Of the starters, James selected Joel Embiid first before selecting former teammate (and Lakers trade target earlier this month) Kyrie Irving as second.

Lauri Markkanen was the last starter selected and Jaren Jackson Jr. was the last reserve selected.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, the team’s captain alongside James, took the first possession of the game, diving and retiring – his injured wrist was so bad it limited his participation.

James vowed not to go “too crazy” during Sunday’s game – a rule he was quick to break when he threw an alley-oop in front of himself in the opening minutes of the game.

He finished with 13 points in 14 minutes before shutting it down for the Lakers’ final push.

Paul George scored eight points off the bench for Team LeBron on a tough shooting night that saw him miss all nine of his three-pointers.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/story/2023-02-19/nba-all-star-game-team-lebron-team-giannias-recap LeBron James focused on playoff push after All-Star Game loss

Emma Bowman

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